It was another crazy morning of getting everyone ready and out of the house. We were walking to the car and my two-year-old daughter, Olivia, wanted to stop and smell the flowers (literally) in the front yard. I tried to rush her and managed to get her into her car seat. But she yelled, “My do!” (toddler talk for “I want to buckle my own car seat!”). Why do these things always happen on days I am running late? I knew I wouldn’t win the battle, so I tried to patiently encourage her to quickly buckle the strap because “Mommy has to get to an important client meeting.” Of course she took her time; after all, she was on her timetable, not mine.
I was reflecting on this experience a couple of days later, and realized there was a lot of learning for me in this interaction. I like to do things quickly–check things off my list, make the decision, move forward on a project, achieve a goal. I like it when things are organized and go as planned (when I was expecting Olivia, my husband used to joke that when she was born she would come out with a Franklin Covey planner). Sometimes I just have to laugh when Olivia dumps milk on her school outfit three minutes before leaving, runs in the opposite direction when I tell her to get in the car, or throws herself on the floor in a tantrum when I tell her to put on her shoes. But I digress.
Oftentimes in our leadership, we are so focused on getting things done, that we are not present in our relationships. We put off giving that meaningful feedback to our co-worker; we don’t get a chance to tell our employee how much we value her work; or we don’t have enough time in our day to get out and interact with staff members. We rationalize that we have important things to do. Yet slowing down and being a deliberate, purposeful leader is what will make us most effective. We forget that building and maintaining these significant relationships is what leadership is all about. It’s the people side of the business that often gets neglected.
Questions to ponder: