As I sat down to the table, I felt my anxiety rise. I saw so many utensils and glasses. I had to watch others to know which of the cutlery to use and when. The forks were backward to me; I thought you start using from the inside to give room for the bigger plates.
I was out of place.
A friend of mine, who is a seasoned formal eater, saw my struggle and elegantly modeled the proper tool and technique. He mentored me appropriately in eating etiquette.
There is a life-lesson in the traditional-formal place setting: in most things, someone must teach those who don’t know.
In your arena of life, who taught you? Who are you teaching?
Life is like passing a baton in a relay race. Your lap only lasts so long, and someone will be running after you.
As we serve as leaders, we need to be mindful of those who are following us, who will take over when we are done running, how we can support them, and their development.
Too often, I’ve seen the downside of leadership; where a leader acts as if they have arrived and they are above their followers. That kind of leader fails to acknowledge the adaptations needed when things don’t line up with their plan. They can be dictatorial and unbending.
I love how Robert Greenleaf models his essays after Leo from Herman Hesse’s Journey to the East. Leo is a man who seems to be an extraordinary servant but is also a magnificent presence and leader. There are so many things I can learn from Greenleaf, Hesse, and Leo.
I know it can be messy to help others. I know too, it sometimes adds stress and time. Can I encourage you to spend the extra time with people? I’ve learned time is quickly recovered, and you have invested in a loyal friend.
Can we have a conversation about serving as leaders?
Leo served the members of the expedition, even though he was a leader to the villages around them. How well do you serve the communities around you? Your team? Your family?
What does serving as a leader mean to you?
What are the characteristics of leading others and developing them toward who they can be?
What is highest on the agenda; the objective or the team?
I’d love to hear from you, what are your thoughts on developing others, coaching skills improvement, or even getting things done through others?