Over the last several months I have been a part of the Orientation Council at Belmont University. During my time on this team, I have had the opportunity to grab a hold of a whole new understanding of leadership, and furthermore, a whole new vision for my life. I have been entrenched in deep community with 25 others over the past few weeks and I am want to share one small aspect of what I have learned during my time here this summer.
I know that many people who read this are most likely in a leadership position in some way, shape, or form… but if not, I trust that we all will experience leadership somewhere, somehow. For some, it may be on a project at school…. or at work… but a lot of us will get a chance to lead in our family, in our friends and around our communities as we grow older. This is the Team-Minded Leadership model.
Our schedule this summer was pretty tight, and by that I mean extremely tight. we were usually up by 5:45 a.m., in order to be in the office by 6:15-6:30 every day, and we were lucky if we were in bed before 10:30 pm on most nights. Between these hours, our schedules were filled with breakouts, main sessions, introducing speakers, holding doors, saying hello to distressed parents while pointing them in the right direction, as well as cramming our meals. For us, Time was always on the go. Time was precious. Time was in no way on our side, and as we learned quickly into the process… Time flew by very quickly!
With so little time, there are many people who would tell me that the smartest approach to getting everything done was to divide and conquer. Ever heard of that term before? This is where things started to change, because we didn’t choose this model.
You see… for our team [the 4 Orientation Council members, our intern, and our advisor] we had a choice to make, every minute of the day…… Choose to invest in our team, or take care of our time/the next event. In moments when time is not readily available to us, we had a difficult choice to make. Look after time or look after our people? I will share with you that our choice, 99.9% of the time was our people, or our team.
Your team is the most important people in your organization, because if you didn’t have a team, most likely you wouldn’t have an organization. Your team members are the people who actually carry out your mission and vision. They are the “hands and feet” and people in leadership roles know that their often does most of the work, but rarely gets enough credit.
That is exactly why in every situation, we took the opportunity to be present with our team. We knew that if we invested in our team, they would feel connected, involved, and appreciated for the role they play. I will not lie… it was a tough thing to do most of the time.
You see, no one really wants a boss. The connotation with that word has so much negativity attached with it. A boss assigns tasks, stays distant in his/her office a lot of time. A boss is focused on efficiency and not maximizing the potential of their employees. A boss is often times focused on the end task of making good reviews, or increasing the profits. People want a leader though. A leader is more like a friend than a boss. A friend cares for you; for who you are and what you’re feeling. They do not wish for you to perform, but rather to be genuine in all interactions with others. A friend loves first, and worries about tasks second. A friend wants you to be successful wherever you are, rather than focusing on numbers and increasing revenues. A leader is a friend who takes care of you in the process of growing.
In the end, we may have missed some details here and there. We may have had moments in the programs that could have run smoother and flow smoother. We could have even had a few more “strongly agree’s” on our ending survey… But we were incredibly pleased with our results. Our team was a team and we didn’t sacrifice people in order to achieve our results.
The proof was in our closing dinner. The group we were leading spend over 3 hours saying their goodbyes. They poured their hearts out to one another. They wrote each other letters and said unbelievable words of encouragement. My heart was full that day in a way it has never been before. To think that I was “leading”?!?
We happen to receive the highest approval ratings in the programs history as well. Not because we were better leaders than the other groups, I assure you that is not the case. Not because our events were perfect either, because again, they were not. I really believe that it was directly related to the fact that we cared for our team, and in turn they were able to be present for the new students and parents that were on our campus.
Leaders don’t just dictate… they demonstrate. We were able to turn our 6 person team into a 25 member team because we altered the way we lead. In the end, I have come to this conclusion: Your team is the most important aspect of your organization and if neglected the entire organization will suffer.
Our team mattered.
YOUR team matters.