Lead Me, Don't Boss Me.
May 08, 2017
If you do a Google search for, "Leadership vs. Management," you will get 168,000,000 results - obviously there's been some discussion on that topic for a while. But what really makes us follow someone, willingly?
I was raised in an extremely conservative religion that I no longer follow, but I find myself still led by some of the principles I was taught as a child. There are two Bible verses that I know of that tell wives to "obey" their husbands. I've always had an issue with this, and I've questioned it and researched it. My main concern was, how or why should a woman follow a man who may not be a good leader, or who is making bad choices, or who has an ongoing pattern of going in a direction that ends up being a mistake? The same question can be asked in the workplace - how do I follow a manager/supervisor who takes the team in a direction that is clearly not a positive one? I've had bosses who made self-serving decisions which negatively impacted a lot of other people - do we still have to follow their direction, since they're the boss? And how do you reconcile all of that and still be happy at your job? My previous post was about the importance of matching values - in relationships and in the workplace. Without that match, there will be dissonance.
In my attempt to get to the bottom of the "obey your husbands" directive, I re-read the verses many times. The word 'obey' had overshadowed the real message, for me, previously. What I finally came to realize is that this verse, and the ones surrounding it, are talking about mutual respect. It's not saying for wives to subject themselves to abuse, neglect, or disrespect. It's telling husbands, also, to love their wives, as they do themselves. If you treat someone well, with respect and love, they will be much more willing and able to treat you in the same way. And if a man/husband is doing everything he can to show love to his wife by working hard to make good decisions for the 'team,' rather than just for himself, he will be likely to solicit her opinions and thoughts, and respect her by taking those into consideration. And that's why she'll follow.
So how do you apply this in the workplace, as a leader? Earn and show mutual respect. Think of the team, rather than yourself, when making decisions. Yes, one person is the assigned boss. Just like I believe the Bible says the husband is the assigned leader - but he does it with respect for anyone following - whether it be his wife, kids, or extended family who needs his leadership. If a husband is not a good leader, or is making bad choices, his wife will lose respect for him. And once you've lost that, the mutual respect disintegrates, and that's where relationships start to fail. The burden is on the leader to be someone others can respect and follow. By respecting those who are led, you earn respect. It's a reciprocal cycle, and done right, it's one of continuous growth. Wouldn't you love to be a leader who continuously earns more and more respect and trust from those you're leading?
In relationships, love cannot be continuous without mutual respect, in my opinion. In the workplace, turnover will be high in teams and organizations that lack respect for the people on the team looking for solid, respectable leadership. *Employees, respect and obey your leaders and they, in turn, are to respect and value you as they do themselves.* Seems like Someone knew what He was talking about when He wrote the whole "respect and obey" directive.