As leaders, we need to keep an eye out for team members who might be going through hard times in their lives, at work, or at home. These are the most important times for us to be aware and act, not only for our own sakes, but on behalf of those we have the opportunity to lead. If we proceed with pure hearts and authentic love, we can make a significant impact with lasting ripples.
Light Passing Through Clouds
I’ve hiked Old Rag Mountain, a part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, many times before. On one particular day, when I arrived at the top, I saw the sun’s love in the form of a beam. It passed through dark, threatening clouds to shine down on the valley below. Thoughts of a friend seeped into my mind.
He and I had met up earlier. He was in his 50s and didn’t seem to have many friends. I noticed something was wrong. His head hung downward and he slouched where he used to stand tall. When he looked at me, his eyes were troubled. At that point, I could have turned to go or I could have made an intentional decision to engage.
I decided to engage.
It didn’t take long to learn that he’d recently lost his dad to a freak accident. I asked how he was doing, then simply listened as he processed what had happened through the act of sharing. While he didn’t share his deepest feelings, it seemed he told me more than he’d told anyone else. Our friendship grew in depth and, most importantly, in trust.
The Importance of Stepping Up
I recently read a book by author, speaker, and pastor, John C. Maxwell, called Intentional Living: Choosing a Life That Matters. In it, John writes, “The people who most often make the biggest difference are the people who are first to step up and help at a time when it makes a difference.” This is what I tried to do by offering my friend support and a listening ear. I hope I made a difference. Based on our relationship afterwards, I think I did.
Putting It into Action
When was the last you saw someone traveling through a valley of their life? Did you take the opportunity to engage? Or, did you listen to the voices in your head? “Someone else will reach out to them. Someone who is closer to them will help. They will be okay.”
What does it take to lead in these types of situations?
- Intentionally grow your relationships by spending time with your team members, your direct reports, mentees, peers, significant others, and/or children.
- Engage when something is wrong. Watch for people’s body language and other signs to reveal the moments when they’re struggling.
- Listen more than you talk. We all want to fix someone else’s challenges for them, but helping them come to a solution is much more important for their personal growth.
- Encourage them in the moment and, even more importantly, throughout the near future.
As you spend time with those you lead, engaging, listening, and continuously encouraging them, your relationships will grow deeper and more authentic. There have been times when I could have followed the advice above but didn’t. Later, I wished I had. Now I’m even more determined to take these steps next time I’m given the opportunity.
My challenge to you throughout this week, month, and year is to watch for people in the valleys of their lives and do something. Be a light. Act. Dig in. Listen. Build deeper relationships and reflect on how this impacts your leadership. I know it will make you a better leader, a person who can have a greater effect on your organization, mission field, community, and world.
The Fired-Up! Team is made up of experienced leaders with hearts to help others grow through one-on-one coaching. Connect with us today!
Paul is part of a dynamic team of passionate change agents who are dedicated to partnering with organizational executives to create cultures that inspire, engage and ignite the best in people. Our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams and align operation practices to delighting the customer and drive breakthrough results.