What If I Needed To Be Gone for an Extended Period?
“If you delegate tasks, you create followers. If you delegate authority, you create leaders.” Craig Groeschel
Recently, a good friend’s son-in-law had a medical emergency that took him away from his work for an extended period of time. This got me thinking about how I, and you, would react given the same situation. This month we explore how we might react in a comparable situation, and what we might do now to prepare for such a scenario. I find this an intriguing question; one that might suggest a great deal about how we lead.
The piece on ‘gratitude’ created several positive responses. Thank you for taking the time to let me know your thoughts. The one response that was most intriguing came from a friend who owns a funeral home. As you can imagine, his is a business of ‘loss.’ He shared that having to deal with loss every day has helped his ability to have a daily heart of gratitude. My sense is this would also be true of many people who work serving those with physical, mental or emotional struggles. While many of us don’t work on the ‘front line’ of life’s struggles, we still can/need to find daily aspects of our life to be thankful for. What does your gratitude journal say today?
Be well and do your best work,
How would you respond if you had an emergency that would take you away from work for a month, or longer? Some of this depends on the answers to the following questions.
- What’s the nature of the emergency? Is it life threatening? How will it change my life?
- How long will I be off work?
- Who do I need to talk to, and what do I need to tell them that’s vital to my job? If I’m a leader, what do I need to tell my team about what needs done?
The sequencing of these questions might depend on the situation, and it might give you insight as to where your priorities are in life and how you lead. The timing between the questions will also depend on what the nature of the emergency is. Life-threatening emergencies tend to absorb our full attention until they are no longer life-threatening. Other emergencies may allow us to transition quickly.
At 29, two weeks after I found out I was going to be a father, I was fired from a job that wasn’t a good fit. At 29, I was a typical male, in that I defined a lot of “who” I was by my job. There was a lot of anxiety not only about the loss of my job, and being a father in 7 months. More of my anxiety hit at the center of how I saw myself. “If others find out that I’m unemployed, they will think that there must be something wrong with me. They will think I am less of a person. They won’t like me.” The truth is, I thought I was less of a person. I was embarrassed and wondered if I’d find another job.
Looking back on that period, I can laugh at some of the notions I had – particularly around losing my job. People losing their jobs today is so common place, no one thinks twice about a person having lost their job.
Thankfully, I grew and learned from this experience. It was a catalyst for seeing myself in a different light, a light that was internally directed toward my growth, not externally focused on what I did for a living. Learning that helped me put all future jobs in a much healthier perspective. It also helped me gain a healthier perspective on how important I was to any given role. I learned that the world has a way of going on, and the best thing I could do was prepare people/teams for a time when I wouldn’t be there.
Most of the reactions that I see to the possibility of being gone for an extended period (emergency) come in two forms. One, “What will other members of my team do? I am so vital to this, this, and this how will the department function without me?” Over time, a second fear can also emerge, “What if they get along just fine and I’m not needed?”
Almost every leader must go through a time of learning that their performance is not nearly as important as their team’s performance. As the leader becomes increasingly judged by their team’s performance, the leader must understand that the development of the team is their primary job. For some leaders this creates anxiety because it means giving up control. As a result, we often see leaders who don’t delegate as well, or as much, as they need to. It also can control how well they are teaching team members the skills, knowledge and behaviors necessary to perform well in their job. The leader creates a dependency on themselves as a way of feeling more important and needed. This often leads members of the team to be unfulfilled and less challenged. The better team members often leave.
The golden nugget: the very best leaders develop their people to be the best they can be, sometimes better than themselves. They understand that their ‘job security’ is tied to how well their people perform. They understand it is a good thing to have people around them who have talents and intelligence that they don’t have.
How long could you be away from your job without there being a major impact to the team, department, or organization’s performance? What changes would you need to make to extend that period of time?
To a better you…
Of Interest: Why aren’t you delegating?