When we have an opportunity to share experience and knowledge with new leaders, we should. Last Friday I had that opportunity when I accepted an invitation to be a panelist at an orientation for new administrators.
The essence of the best question was “What do you wish you had known about leadership before stepping into the role?”
There was nothing surprising about the question, but my answer continued to evolve over the weekend.
I shared with the room of new administrators that I had no idea of the number and complexity of the relationships I would have. Depending on issues allies became foes and foes became allies, but respect and trust are key no matter what side of an issue a person chooses. I wish I had known all the relationships and the time commitment and other resources needed to cultivate them.
On my way to the parking lot, I listened to a conversation between two hardworking administrators about work demands, long days, and limited resources. Servant leaders have to be careful and take care of themselves. I had not mentioned our relationship with ourselves and self-care are important.
Then on Saturday, meeting a work colleague for brunch I was reminded that we meet lifelong friends at work. We talked shop, children, and hobbies as we I sent my overcooked bacon back to the kitchen. I had not mentioned our work relationships can have multiple dimensions.
The final morning stop was at the Bed Bath and Beyond’s Clearance Table. I purchased every coloring book on the table. As she scanned the codes and manually entered each discount, the salesperson smiled and remarked, “Good sale. Did you buy every coloring book on the table?” “Yes. I did. As a leader, I purchase fun items for my team. “ Fumbling with my bags and credit card, I could not offer my complete thought until now:
My team works hard and I want to let them know I value them and their self-care. The coloring books are just a token of that acknowledgment. I also hold gatherings for professional women where I stress the need to unwind and relax. Lastly, I am from a family of colorers—daughters, grandchildren, mother and aunt. With crayons and 50 coloring books with countless pages of Disney characters, floral designs, and kittens, we will color in the lines of team, family and friendship.
New leaders, this is what I wish I had known about leadership beforehand: Many relationships will be important, and our relationships with our teams, our friends, our family, and ourselves stand apart from those. They are precious. When we acknowledge the importance of relationships and invest accordingly with time and consideration, we are fulfilled as a leader and a person.
As always Readers, I invite you to respond as we share the journey to Coach2Zen.