Last week, while driving during rush hour on a congested Houston freeway one of the young men whom I mentor made the following comment: “Mr. Al, it would be easier and quicker to get to my house if you turn left up ahead instead of going straight.” After I thought about what he said, I came to the realization that his directions would save me at least 10 to 15 minutes of driving time. I asked him why he did not tell me this information any of the previous times that I took him home. He replied that he was not sure how I would take the fact that he was giving me directions. I told him: “Son, with the price of gas nowadays, any time that you save me driving would be truly appreciated.”
I thanked him for the information because it was truly beneficial for both of us. The benefit being that I saved gas and he got home quicker. I was happy that, after two mentoring sessions, he felt comfortable enough to speak up when he thought it was necessary. I wonder how many people do not speak up in businesses or other organizations because they feel that they would hurt the leader’s ego/feelings. We all know or have heard of certain people who will sit by and watch an organization deteriorate rather than provide a beneficial suggestion that they know will work and benefit everyone. I am not a psychologist and therefore unable to tell you why these individuals act the way they do. However, I do know that if situations like these are not changed then the organization will die a slow and painful death.
In his book titled “Servant Leadership”, Robert Greenleaf discusses a concept called “Roving Leadership”. By using this concept the leader/person in charge recognizes that he/she may not know all there is to know about the job or task at hand. Therefore he/she creates an environment where team members feel empowered to speak-up and use their expertise to help solve their mutual problem. The beauty of this “Roving Leadership” concept is that anyone can use it in their office, home or personal relationships because it fosters an environment of cooperation and teamwork. This type of environment allows everyone to contribute mutually to the success of everyone else and the team as a whole.
In one way or another we are all leaders. Being a leader does not necessarily mean that we are the head of an organization, business or military unit. Many times we find ourselves becoming “leaders by default”. We can be a single parent raising a family alone or the De facto leader of a social organization. A leader is simply someone who leads and/or has influence over another/others. My point is that we can all improve our business, home or relationships by not feeling threatened when others “step up” to solve a mutual problem. Are you willing to give it a try?