It is easy to bulldoze over people as we climb the ladder to the top of the organization. It’s all about us, right?
We cannot continue to climb the organizational charts without understanding people and caring for them. People are the life-blood of our organization.
Trying to understand people is hard, though. It’s a never-ending learning situation.
Think about your spouse. It seems like every other day they’re a different person. How are you to understand them?
You just do…
When you begin to understand your spouse, your relationship begins to blossom. You become in sync with them.
The same happens when you begin to understand the people you lead.
Cate Huston says Time spent understanding people is never wasted. Tony Dungy says If you want to make a difference in the lives of the people you lead, you must be willing to walk alongside them, to share moments of understanding with them, and to spend time with them, not just shout down at them from on high. Brene Brown says Daring leaders must care for and be connected to the people they lead.
My time in youth ministry has helped me understand this more than any other position I’ve held. Students are typically stand-offish, not wanting to connect, and unwilling to communicate. Well, until you begin to understand them.
Once you enter into their world, they begin to open up. Leading them becomes easier. They want to be known and knowing them helps you to understand them better. This leads to a better leadership experience.
Understanding is the key to leading people well. It’s never easy, but it is well worth it.
How To Understand The People You Lead
We know it is hard to understand the people we lead. They’re so dynamic. They’re ever-changing. Honestly, they’re a lot like us.
We’re hard to understand. We constantly change. We’re always growing and stretching. Yet, we expect people to understand us. How do we get people to understand us? How do we understand the people we lead?
To understand the people we lead, we must be willing to spend time with them. Not fluff time but actual meaningful time.
You don’t have to go out to the ballgame with them. You don’t have to invite them over to your house for dinner. But you do have to spend time with them.
Hold regular one-on-one meetings with your people. During these one-on-one meetings, talk about family, relationships, hobbies, etc… Discover who they are. Discover what makes them tick.
As you begin to learn about their family life, hobbies, relationships, and faith, you will understand them on a new level. You will see what makes them tick. You will see what brings them life. You will see what they desire.
Getting to know your people will take extra effort on your part. It will require you to push yourself to step out of your comfort zone. You might have to encourage your people to step out of their comfort zone.
This is where great growth comes from.
By stepping out of your comfort zone and getting to know your people, you will begin to understand your people. Everything you hear from them will help you form the larger picture of who they are. This will allow you to understand them and relate to them.
Don’t be afraid to get to know your people. They need it. You need it.