Are You Missing The Plank In Your Eye?

Every time someone subscribes to receive updates from my blog, they should receive an email asking them what the biggest struggle they’re facing today is. I recently had a subscriber respond with an issue most leaders have at some point. 

I shared my thoughts on the topic with them, and they said I should make our conversation a blog post. I hope you will enjoy this interaction made into a cohesive topic about leading others well. 

Man sitting in front of laptop. His hands are thrown up in frustration.

Photo by Headway on Unsplash

Here’s the struggle the reader was facing:

I would say my biggest struggle is mentoring new, younger employees.

At times their level of confidence far exceeds their abilities. In my opinion this contributes to an employee who over simplifies things, over relies on their own abilities to solve a problem, and takes unnecessary risks. This approach can create project delays.

How can I teach them that there are times they really need to ask for help?

My response:

I have recently been watching the Apple TV series Ted Lasso (keep an eye out, there’s a book full of leadership lessons from Ted Lasso that will be coming out). There’s a team relationship between two players, Jamie and Roy. Roy is frustrated with Jamie because he’s the hotshot, up-and-coming football player with a lot of attitude. He’s good, great, in fact. However, he brings the team down because of his actions and attitude. Through the episodes so far, there’s a great scene where Roy realizes he’s been the Jamie of the team. He had the same type of attitude and opinion that he’s seeing in the young player. So, to answer your question, here’s what I would recommend:

Look at the young you:

Can you see yourself in the person you’re struggling to lead? Have you found yourself in situations that this person is in? If you have, share some of those experiences. Let others know you have been where they have been and how you grew from those experiences. By being open, sharing your story you allow others to see that it’s okay.

Be the example:

When was the last time you asked for help in front of this person? They may not have been taught that it is okay to ask for help. If you show there are leaders in the organization that are willing to ask for help, they’re more likely to ask for help.

Help them develop the areas they lack:

If you think this person has the potential to be a great team player, offer developmental opportunities to them. It could be finding a course or seminar that offers up guidance in understanding one’s abilities and skillsets or it could be a team-building exercise where others are vulnerable so they can understand they don’t have to think they know it all.

I hope these suggestions help! 

Her response:

Your ‘Be the example’ point and story about Roy have made me totally rethink my approach.
Last week I mentioned I was working on a perplexing issue and he stated that he’d be glad to help. I did not take him up on his offer. I want this young padawan to come to me for help. Yet, I am not modeling the very thing I want him to do!
And even worse, I never reached out to him due to my own arrogance and overconfidence. The very thing I see in him.

So, there I was, worrying about the splinter in someone else’s eye when I have a moat in my own. Thank you for helping me to see it!

Are You Missing The Plank In Your Eye?

Too often, we miss the mark we are leading. We see someone who’s a challenge to us. They’re rubbing us the wrong way. They’re even doing the things that we have done in the past (or currently)! 

But we don’t see these things. We see the brashness, our own frustrations, or their dismissive behaviors. 

What we don’t do is look inward.

This reader paused, looked inward, and saw that she was modeling the behaviors she was frustrated with. She didn’t like the employee thinking they knew it all, relying completely on themself, failing to ask for help, and taking unnecessary risks. 

Don’t get frustrated with those you’re leading. Your frustration is often because you’re doing the same things they’re doing, but you have no control over their actions. You see your actions as brave, cutting-edge, and exciting. Their actions are reckless, dangerous, and rebellious.

Instead of getting frustrated, begin to model the behaviors you want to see in your employees. If you want to see them ask for help, ask those you lead for help. If you want to see your team take risks, become a risk taker. If you want to see your team grow, grow yourself in front of them.

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