Healthy Leaders


Leadership Lessons I Didn’t Expect to Learn

Fred NobleFred Noble

When my wife and I first got our dog, we had an idea of how we wanted her to behave. We pictured long family walks down by the bay with her as we would casually approach passersby and their dogs. We imagined how we could go to the local dog park and let her run free with other four-legged beasts, playing only how dogs can. And we hoped that she would listen to commands to sit, stay and even jump in the air and catch a treat.

Well, Peru, our American Bulldog, is none of those things. When we see other dogs, she gets aggressive. When we see other people, she wants to love them so much that she jumps on them and sniffs and licks. And when we throw a treat at her? Well, the treat hits her smack dab in the middle of the face and bounces off, landing on the ground where she saunters over and inhales it.

Needless to say, she wasn’t our idea of a dream dog.

But she wasn’t such a terrible dog that we needed to get rid of her.

Training your dream team

The same can be true with our staff at work. How many times have you gone to work, hoping the day would be filled with perfect encounters with your team and then receiving something much less than that? They get the job done. They gel as a team. They aren’t a terrible team, but they are not your idea of a dream team.

My wife and I learned a valuable lesson: If we want Peru to act the way we desire; we need to lead her the way she needs to be led.

If we want her to walk calmly on a leash, we cannot use the cute little leashes you get at the boutique pet store. We need to use a heavy-duty pinch collar. If we expect her to be calm during times that we need to be doing other things, we need to exercise her before we divert attention elsewhere.

I’m sure there are people out there whose dogs behave on those cute collars from the pet boutique. I’m sure there are families who don’t need to exercise their dog for it to chill around the house.

And your staff at work is no different.

You need to tap into what makes your team respond, both as a team and individually. You may have some people on your team who need a strict set of rules, and then you may have some who work well with more freedom.

All teams have those people who must socialize before work happens or else they will spend the rest of the day trying to figure out how to get what they want to say about their social life into the ears of the people trying to work. You will also have those who don’t desire to interact with anyone and are strictly business.

Leading a team is one of the most difficult things you can ever do. The individuals on the team are different, yet they need to work together to create a cohesive team that has a personality and life of its own.

The only way to lead properly is to learn and serve. 

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12) 

Looking at a couple of different biblical leadership examples, the first is that of Jesus. Jesus knew that what would help Him lead his team is serving alongside them and serving them. He realized that they needed so much more than He did, so He gave of Himself.

Serving them led them to trust Him.

Peter, on the other hand, had to learn a lot of hard lessons. He went from being a disciple who betrayed Jesus and a coward to one of the most prominent preachers in the Bible. He learned what his team needed of him in order for them to succeed in their mission.

So when you go back to work and are creating goals, targets, and key performance indicators for your team, realize that they are all different and respond differently to leadership. They need to be led differently to work together as a team.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:10) 

This article originally appeared here.

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Fred Noble