It seems this day in age, we are finding ourselves needing to be exceptionally politically correct in everything we say and do, regardless of our positions. With social media at our fingertips even the slightest misstep may be publicized almost instantaneously for all the world to see and comment on. Perhaps those carrying the largest burden are those in leadership roles of any kind, whether it be executives and managers or teachers, school officials or club presidents. In days passed, leaders had one task to do: lead their team to accomplish an objective. Today leadership is more about BE-ing than DO-ing. Leaders need to BE the face of their organization, they need BE considerate of the needs of others in all walks of life, they need to BE an example for their team, not only in their organization but in practically every area of their lives, nothing is private, and then maybe at the end of the day, if time permits, they might have time to DO something. Leaders do not get a break. You can take a break from DO-ing but you can’t take a break from BE-ing. If we are not in a leadership role, we’re often oblivious to the tremendous amount of pressure that leaders carry every day.
Respect. Not a very common word in The 21st century and not the most popular hashtag on Twitter right now. But that shouldn’t diminish its importance and our ever present need for it in our daily lives. The verb, to respect, is to have a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. Leaders deserve our respect. As a person in Finance and Accounting, my position is usually that of support for CEOs and Executive Directors in for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. Although I strive to be knowledgeable and helpful in the area of Finance, I often find that the best support I can provide leaders is simply to show them respect, to be aware of and acknowledge the tremendous burden they carry in their everyday lives to have to BE everything to everyone, and to try lighten that burden rather than add to it. I do this in a number of ways but here are a couple of examples of how I like to show support for a leader in an organization:
1. Realize they are human.
Of all the things society requires leaders to be, human is often not one of them. Humans have weaknesses, humans make mistakes, humans have bad days, humans sometimes say or do the wrong thing unintentionally. In all my interactions, what I want them to take away is this: they can be human in front of me and I won’t hold it against them.
2. Build trust.
A good leader is a humble leader and a humble leader will admit their shortcomings. Perhaps a CEO admits to me that they struggle with a seemingly simple task. No biggie, let me help. Their secret is safe with me. They can’t be expected to know and do everything. What I hope they take away from this interaction is that I look out for their best interest and they can trust me.
Of course allowing a leader to be human and ensuring they can trust me at all costs may not be fitting in every circumstance. They should never be allowed to do anything illegal or unethical, but I believe generally most leaders have good intentions and it doesn’t hurt to cut them some slack once in a while. I find that just by simply acknowledging their burdens and showing respect, we are able to build a mutual appreciation for one another that goes far beyond job performance. These qualities are rare and invaluable, yet so simple.
Larissa Tamble is a consultant with Morrison, working primarily in our Business & Accounting Advisory practice. To get in touch with Larissa, please find contact information for Morrison here.