I love the holidays and cherish Christmas! I love seeing my boys’ eyes light up as they open a gift that was something unexpected, but exactly what was desired. I love the shout of pure joy and the eagerness to engage that follows.
One of the best gifts I’ve ever received was about this time of year six years ago. It can best be described as a “leadership intervention.” I was given the opportunity to attend the Bell Institute, which required involving approximately 35 people that were close to me: all of our management team, board members, my pastor, mentors, business forum members and my wife, who filled out a 45 minute survey on their view of my behavior. It is very humbling to allow those that know me best the opportunity to provide unvarnished feedback on how I act.
Dr. Gerald Bell of the Bell Institute on Leadership (www.bellleadership.com) asserts that every human being has six basic needs:
1. The need to be loved
2. The need to achieve
3. The need to be valued
4. The need to have some sense of control
5. The need for freedom/pleasure/joy
6. The need to be safe
These needs can be sought disproportionately based on our childhood, our life experiences, or our current circumstances. The way in which we pursue these needs has a direct impact on our ability to lead others. If I need to achieve at any cost there may be a tendency to sacrifice safety or stability of a business in order to grow the business at an unsustainable pace. Or I may sacrifice love in order to be valued (or to be right). How many of us suffer from this one at the expense of our families? The best leaders have sufficient self-control to keep their needs in balance or at least in check in order to facilitate optimum win/win outcomes for everyone.
I think too often organizations spend a lot of time teaching their team members how to be technically great at their specific jobs (i.e. Microsoft skills, or a great mechanic, or a financial wiz-kid who can move the money around) while failing to teach team members how to be great; that comes by developing: honesty, integrity, humility, caring, compassion and trust, to name a few. I know as a leader I still have a long way to go, but I think one of the great gifts we can give one another this Christmas is permission to be transparent with one another in the belief that transparency will lead to the best people we can be. I know the people that love me the most are the ones that tell me there is a piece of spinach in my teeth. I hope that is your experience as well. If you’ve read this and have feedback on how we can be better please email me. Regardless of where you close the year, let’s all commit to make it a great 2015!
Erick W. Slabaugh, CEO