By Rich Robinson
I have three kids. Two of them can cross the road really well. I don’t hold my breath as a parent!
Our youngest, Samuel, is just learning. And with crossing the road the stakes are high. Now, if I simply informed him of the dangers, challenges and payoffs and then sauntered across the road expecting him to ‘pick it up’ I would get some responses to this blog post. Many responses.
He doesn’t just need the information; “The cars are the noisy squares traveling fast, you need to avoid them!”, he needs a teacher to explain the process, he needs a role model to show him and a coach to help him work it out for himself over time. I really don’t want him waiting for me to help him cross the road at 25 years old. But, at this stage of the process, as a parent there is a lot invested in this learning process!!
Sadly in most leadership roles we don’t act like it is our child learning crossing the road. We don’t help people ‘see’ and ‘hear’ what is important, explaining the ‘why’ and ‘how’ and then help them make progress (through role modelling and coaching). Too often we act like that parent that stands on the pavement on one side, gives a short, sharp download of information and then starts to walk across the road. Ouch!
The challenge for us to communicate with word and action – and take people with us. And as people come with us they know ‘why’ they are coming, they know ‘how’ they are doing and they are being trained and empowered to take responsibility themselves for the next time.
As a leader (or parent, spouse, friend, work colleague) communicate the ‘why’? Is it an expected next step or an enthralling bigger picture?
As a leader do you set an example, giving people a role model or living example of what it means to move forward (towards a particular goal, aim, project, breakthrough)? Are you a short, sharp download or a helping hand?
As a leader are you helping people not only to move but to be able to do it again? Not just crossing the road but cultivating responsibility?