Last week’s Blog was about personal problems that you “the leader” might have. Maybe that is the easy part; what about all those other people for whom you are responsible? When you have a problem, whether you admit it or not, you usually know there is a problem. But all those other people, maybe not so easy and the greater question, “Should you ‘the leader’ be concerned or is it none of your business?”
Everyone for whom you “the leader” has a responsibility is “chewing on a crowbar.” That is a given, but is that “crowbar” so tough that it is impacting work performance or worse yet, the devastation of a life? When I think of that question, my mind turns to our nation’s military warriors and veterans, those who have experienced extreme trauma as part of a job in a culture where showing weakness is not commonplace. Like it or not, the trauma of certain military engagements never leaves a person and there are times where the impact does affect job performance and a person’s life. Military commanders today have a sense of this with programs in place to help deal with these situations. But how about you “the leader,” the CEO, business leader, or church lead pastor who have veterans on your staff? Are you sensitive to situations like this?
While trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder is a known situation in the military community, everyday people in your workforce have problems that can be difficult as well, and it can impact the performance of your organization. Sick children, a death in a family, family relationships, and you can go on. Most people deal with those situations and you never know, but then there is the occasion where job performance deteriorates, teams become disrupted, or there is just an explosion on the job. Now you “the leader” have a problem and how you handle those problems depends upon your relationship to the individual and wherein the organization that person serves.
If exercising leadership is about taking on people’s fears, sorrows, hurts, pains, and dreams, then digesting them and returning them to the people so they are encouraged and empowered to take responsibility for the work at hand, then these hidden performance degradations in people’s lives must be addressed. But you “the leader” must assume that most people are not going to go to their supervisor and disclose a personal problem, so what to do?
Hopefully, there is a culture of encouragement and empowerment throughout your organization. That type environment alone will help people cope with personal problems, at least as far as they impact their job performance and your organization. But what if you do sense a problem? A simple question, “are you OK, or do you need help?” might open a person up enough to allow you an opportunity to help. A short vacation, work schedule change, or other temporary job adjustments might help. Then there is the person that just becomes distraught to the point where it not only disrupts the work environment but may destroy a person’s life. Here is where professional help is warranted. Hopefully, you have a human resources function that can advise you or even handle that problem.
You “the leader” are in the business of leading a team to provide products or services; you are not a counseling service, but you do want to encourage and enrich people’s lives. So, how you handle these situations will speak volumes about you and your organization and whether you maintain a healthy productive workforce. It also establishes a culture that says, “Our organization cares about our employees.”
There is another option for you “the leader,” maybe it should be your first action. Pray for those people who are hurting in your organization. Prayer makes the impossible possible and it changes people and it will change you “the leader.” It says in Philippians to, “Not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4: 6-7) “If it wasn’t for people, it would be easy” and are not people and all their wants, disappointments, and perceived entitlements the issue that makes exercising leadership such a challenge? But for those who find their power in the Lord, it can make people worth everything.
If you want to learn how prayer impacted my life and many others on a major project, get my book, GROWING AND BUILDING, Faith, Prayer, and Leadership. It is a real story that had an impact upon people and circumstances, and it made the Impossible, Possible. Growingandbuilding.com, both printed and eBook versions.