This thought came to mind when I was on vacation last week. Our entire family went to the beach and I was told “no” on two occassions that made me feel like someone was thinking for me. The first was at the state park. The wind was blowing too hard to go fishing in the boat so I decided I would go to one of my favorite spots and wade off the shoreline to fish. At the entrance, the park ranger told me I could go in, but that I could not get in the water because the “yellow flag” was up and the water was too rough. I could see the water where I wanted to go and it was only 2.5 feet deep, so in short, I thought he and his flag were crazy. I turned around and went back to the house. The other example was when we were getting ready to go fishing early one morning. We had the boat all ready to go and stopped at the gas station to get fuel, snacks, and beverages. It was 6:30 a.m and they were not authorized to sell alchoholic beverages until 7:00 a.m. Of course, these were for my rowdy crew only, but nevertheless, it was aggravating to have to wait 30 minutes because of the feeling that someone was thinking for me again.
Now obviously, these two examples have much more behind them. There is good reasoning for the rules the government imposed, and I think they are good in regards to the overall safety of society. But they made me feel like others assumed I was incapable of making responsible decisions. Then I reflected on Leadership and how we can potentially set the same kind of trap for other leaders within an organization.
Leaders need leaders too, however each of us values our own ability to think, strategize, and execute. We cannot take that away from others prematurely. It can be frustrating if someone is given a Leadership role, only to still be heavily guided in regards to what the strategy should be and how things should be executed. In the long run we should bring the best people on the team and be patient. It will be apparent if they have the leadership and skills necessary to be the valuable member needed, but only if we are patient. If we are patient and they are not what we expected, we should make a change soon. If we are impatient and jump in to start doing the thinking for them it delays the inevible and the following is likely to happen: The organization will not benefit from the leadership that we intended to bring in because it has just become an extension of our own efforts with no originality; We will know later rather than sooner that we made the wrong choice; Or the person could really have what it takes, yet they were not given enough time. If this is the case they will feel stifled and will eventually move on to an organization where they feel appreciated and can help with growth.
Patience is a virtue of leadership and is something that must be practiced when working with other leadership tyes. We all do things differently and sometimes at a different pace. We spend a tremendous amount of time and energy selecting the members of our team, especially those that are being placed into Leadership positions, or are expected to quickly grow that way. It is a disservice to them if we do not allow them the time and space to think for themselves, which is really how they will make a difference and contribution at a high level. Let them think. Let them set their own goals and boundries. Otherwise they are given a handicap right out of the gate, for which they will feel stifled and the organization will not benefit from their originality, aspirations, or their style of leadership.