Sinead O’Connor’s new album makes me wonder if you remember the story about how I learned the lesson of “To Lead is to Serve.” I was in charge of a big event when the ushers became overwhelmed.
About 5,000 people showed up – many more than we expected. As the number of people increased, the ushers became overwhelmed and were not doing a good job of seating them quickly and courteously. The ushers had been trained to treat each person respectfully but, as the crowd grew, they forgot that a crowd is still made up of individuals.
I thought they were treating people like a herd of cattle, so I met with the ushers in a private room and began pointing out what they were doing wrong and what they should be doing. Later, my supervisor called me and asked, “What did you say to the ushers?”
“I pointed out how they should do the seating properly,” I replied.
She inquired, “Did you ask them if they had eaten lunch?”
At the time, I was taken aback by her question. It never occurred to me to ask if the ushers had eaten. I realize now it was my ego. I was in charge, after all. My reputation for putting on a successful event was on the line.
To mis-paraphrase Sinead O’Connor, “I was the boss. It was my job to be bossy.” Unfortunately, that rarely works.
Here are some leadership tips that I learned from this experience:
- Align with people rather than opposing them.
- Respond, don’t direct.
- When you try to rule instead of serve, a struggle ensues.
- Being receptive to people attracts exceptional results.
- In the long run, we are all in this boat together. To cross the stream, we need all hands on deck. Only when you are free of selfish ulterior considerations, are you capable of getting all hands on deck.
Thank you. Shar McBee – Author of To Lead is to Serve and Joy of Leadership
Many years ago I was working with a man and both of us felt it was heading toward romance. More and more little things happened that left me feeling hurt or disappointed. However, the situation was favorable on the whole, so it would have been easy to gloss it over.
Then a wonderful mentor warned me: “Don’t miss the right moment to walk away.”
She said, “You are still in power. You have a good position. If you back out now it is a sign of strength. If you miss the right moment, it is only going to get worse and you’ll be running away.”
Her advice saved me from a sticky situation at work and saved his friendship which I still value today.
Yesterday I read in a fortune cookie: “Retreat is not to be confused with flight. Flight means saving oneself under any circumstances. Retreat shows strength.”
Is there something that you need to retreat from?
Coming Soon: I am going to teach a series of courses based on my book To Lead is to Serve. We’ll cover nonprofit fundraising and volunteer leadership. More info coming soon.
Thanks, Shar McBee
John knows he is right. He is smart. His behavior is upright. He has good intentions. Then everything suddenly collapsed. Because he felt he was in the right, he continued on his way proud and unconcerned.
Not only did John’s whole “empire” collapse, so did the people who had supported him. John was a banker, but I have seen the same scenario play out in nonprofit leadership at large international organizations and local Girl Scout troops.
The circumstances did not cause John’s downfall. His arrogance did…his certainty that he was “right.” There is something about thinking that we are right that causes us to become rigid. As a leader, it is important to be strong, and also flexible.
Shar McBee, Author of “To Lead is to Serve”
Announcing: “Food for Thought Talk” with Wendy Biro Pollard, “How to Stretch a Slim Budget” If you are not part of my “Food for Thought” program you can try it out for just $1.
Have you had a boss who never came out of his office? I have. His problem was that he didn’t understand wind. Yes, wind. Wind blows far and wide and causes grass and trees to bend.
Successful leaders are out and about. They survey the situation. They change unsuitable circumstances. They have a view of the real sentiments of all the people who work for them, so it’s hard for them to be deceived by a few.
If you want to exert an influence, you can’t have a limited outlook. You need to understand the prevailing forces. The more you put yourself among them, the more people will be swayed by you – just as the grass and trees are swayed by the wind.
Author of “To Lead is to Serve” and “Joy of Leadership”
Princess Diana was a teenager when she entered the royal family. She had no power and no education. Yet she changed a 1000 year old institution, the British monarchy.
She altered the way royalty raise their children. She was criticized, insulted and threatened, but later her son married a “commoner.” This was unheard of before Diana. In the end, many believe she saved the monarchy.
David was weak. Goliath had all the power. David, too, was criticized, insulted and threatened. But David slayed the dragon.
Both of them could have said, “I’m too small, too young, too weak.” This is how most people think. They think of all the reasons why something can’t happen.
Miracles happen every day. Why not let a miracle happen for you? When you know something is right…when you have a chance to become great…don’t talk yourself out of it.
Shar McBee, author of “To Lead is to Serve” and “Joy of Leadership”
Luke Skywalker: “I don’t believe it.”
Yoda: “That is why you fail.”
There is incredible power in what you believe. Next time you are not sure of something, instead of trying to “fake it til you make it” try this:
Ask yourself, “What if you could?”
Research has shown that saying, “I don’t believe it,” will shut down cognitive ability in the brain. Asking, “What if I could?” does the opposite. It will engage your brain in finding a solution.
This is me at the Pacific Ocean after driving across the country to start a whole new life in California. What if I can?
P.S. If you belong to my Food for Thought for NonProfits program, today at 5pm Pacific Time (8 pm EST) we have the “Food for Thought Talk.” Two of the nation’s top sales people (one for Alcoa and one from Otis Elevators) will teach you “How to sell your nonprofit.”
Shar McBee, author of “To Lead is to Serve”
I am driving across country (moving from the Atlantic to the Pacific.)
The other night I foolishly kept driving late into the night. Then couldn’t find a place to stop and wound up in a flea-bag hotel. Afraid of bed-bugs and creepy noises, I could barely sleep.
The next day I was so tired, I couldn’t listen to anything motivational or inspirational in the car. (Only mind-numbing babble on the radio.) That night I stayed in a luxury hotel, got plenty of sleep, and the next day could listen to… and be inspired by… the motivational CD’s I had brought along on the trip.
It made me think that when you are tired and discouraged:
- You talk yourself out of your dreams.
When you feel rested and safe:
- You don’t limit yourself.
- You can focus on what you want… not your circumstances.
Could that be why the rich get richer? Just wondering.
P.S. I’ve been thinking a lot on this trip about how hard it is for “heart centered” people to do sales and marketing. Even when they are “selling” a wonderful service. And it is especially hard for nonprofits. If you find yourself in that predicament, please try my new “Food for Thought” program. - CLICK HERE to learn how you can try it out for one month for just $1
Author of “To Lead is to Serve”
Announcing: Two smart “geeks” are joining me to bring you two live-seminars in Maryland next week. Find out about the “The Future of Fundraising” in Baltimore. (Or, in Easton, here.)
I read this in the Harvard Business Review and just had to pass it on:
The result of trying to drive more work through fewer people, and at greater speed, is a jamming of the queue. There is simply no way to get everything done in the accelerated time frames that many managers expect. So while their intentions are to move quickly on things, the reality is that you can only force so much work through the eye of the needle.
Yesterday, I had to ask someone to do something but I could see that she was already stressed and under a lot of pressure. Although I really needed it done, I said, “Well, just do it if you can.” Immediately, her stress vanished. Within two hours, she did what I had asked. (I find that just relieving their pressure, frees people up to get a lot more done.)
Ron Ashkenas wrote the article in the Harvard Business Review. You can read the article and his solutions here.
Shar McBee, author of “To Lead is to Serve”
A high school student asked the gym teacher, “May I eat ice cream when I begin dieting?”
“Absolutely not!” said the teacher.
Another student then asked, “May I begin dieting while I eat ice cream?”
The response we get depends on how we phrase our statement or question.
How does it feel when the leader says, “Like it or not, we’ve got a problem?” When I hear a comment like this, my energy drops. I get defensive.
On the other hand, what do we think when we hear, “I have some good news?” We sparkle. We lean forward in our chairs. We want to hear it.
A positive statement versus a negative one actually physically affects us. Human beings are physically attracted to people who use positive words. Even changing “problem” into “challenge” will improve your response. As the leader, we can serve people by changing our negative words into positive ones.
This is a story from the eBook Leadership for Women: How to Be a Natural Leader. – Shar McBee
P.S. My 3rd Leadership for Women Conference benefiting Chesapeake College is March 7, 2014. It will leave you feeling nourished. I guarantee it.
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