For purpose-driven leaders, there might not be anything more important than their continual emotional investments in people. Great leaders not only know this, they instinctually pursue it.
Investing in people doesn’t have to be a business strategy, and it doesn’t have to be something that is done for profitability. All good things come from it, but shouldn’t be the reason for it. Leaders who invest in people know that they get much more back out of it than what they put in; this is why I purposely use the word “invest”. The rewards from deep relationships with other people are priceless. The type of satisfaction, comfort, and purpose that results can’t be bought.
Love the People.
Respect the Process.
Believe in the Purpose.
We say “Love the People” because, at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. It’s about loving one another. Of course, this applies not only to each other but also our clients and whomever else we come in touch with.
Certainly, it’s hard to love anyone without knowing them. Of course, we can’t know everyone at a deep, intimate level. But, we can certainly make an effort to know them better – that is something that we can control. Deep relationships result from knowing and understanding one another, caring about one another, and trusting one another.
In the latter part of 2016, I knew I was lacking in this area, and that it was affecting both my effectiveness as a leader and also my own personal satisfaction in my life. Most of my drive for wanting to deepen relationships was that I realized my many “surface” relationships were not giving me much of anything. I knew that I was ok being vulnerable and letting others go deep with me. So, what was I waiting for? For 2017, I decided to focus on a single person in our office for a week, each week. I would pray for this person, read his/her file, goals, personality assessment, etc. I would meet with this person for a conference or lunch.
Then, I thought, “why just a week?” I mean, who can go deep in just a week? So, I made it a month instead. I decided to spend the month really thinking about that person and trying to understand him/her better. Understanding the person in a way that would help me to help them – to achieve not only the person’s work goals but also personal goals. You see, personally, I get a huge rush from seeing others succeed. I love to help others reach their goals. I am highly driven to do that. I suppose that is why I am in a service business that helps people achieve their goals and protect their families. However, my effectiveness in doing this is directly related to the depth of my relationships. The deeper the relationships, the more water the well provides.
Naturally, we really are wired to be selfish. We have instincts to survive, reproduce, and preserve ourselves. If you can keep these instincts under control, however, there is a whole world out there of peace and satisfaction just waiting for us.
All of these are terms that come to mind when I think of that world. It can be life-altering for anyone, let alone a leader.
We also have a deep need to be understood. There is no doubt about this. Relationships often break down and break down quickly, when someone feels very misunderstood. It’s frustrating and it’s empty. The danger lies in the intensity and imbalance of the focus you have on being understood by others. If you can’t get away from a fixation on being understood, you will never be understood. Why? Because, you can’t develop a deep relationship with anyone with first seeking to be understood, but showing no interest in them. If you develop deep relationships by first seeking to understand, and also allowing yourself to be vulnerable to allow them to understand you, you will not only be understood, that other person will very sincerely want to understand you. It is a two-way street that you have just created. The most effective people I see lead with trying to understand others as their first priority, and then the dividends come back to them tenfold as they have many other people that either understand them or want to understand them.
Here’s one last major reason that understanding others helps you. I believe that understanding is the antidote to judgment. When you are practiced at understanding others by going deep with others, you are given major insight into the struggles that we all have – judgment (rush to) starts to evaporate. Your thinking changes. It is very freeing. The more you get to know a person, the more attractive they become to you. Because, everything you see on the inside of them suddenly you are able to see on the outside of them.
Great leaders truly behold their people on a daily basis. They are fully centered and are able to embrace that person, and just that person, in the moment. People flocked to Jesus because he did not see them as black or white, rich or poor, male or female. He saw everyone as a big family, with all of us in it together. Great leaders crave deep relationships with others. It keeps them emotionally healthy, spiritually healthy, on mission, and in touch. No leader can be great without the ability to go deep with people.