In the spirit of Mothers’ Day, I would like to share a small story that I witnessed a short time ago.
I was in the waiting line to pick up my daughter from her elementary school when I witnessed an inspirational moment of servant leadership. A mother was walking her son home from kindergarten, and he pulled her to a stop to pick up a fairly large branch that was protruding out into the sidewalk. She waited for him to grasp it and then she proceeded at a slower gait so that he could manage his new burden. The stick jostled as it outlined each crack and separation in the concrete. Once or twice it poked her in the back of the leg.
After the third poke to the back of her calf, I knew that this was the moment of truth. I could empathize with her frustration at being poked by such a useless object. I thought that I knew her response. She is going to grab the stick from him and launch it into the hedgerow.
Interestingly, her response was just the opposite of my expectations. She took his little hand and showed him how to hold the stick so that it would not pose a threat to either of their legs. HE was important to her…and her efforts allowed her to look past the apparently useless BIG stick. It was within only a few steps that he pulled her to a hault and launched the stick into the hedge. Unencumbered, the two walked hand-in-hand the rest of the way home from school.
There are many times in a leadership moment when those we are leading pull the organization to a hault and take up a “big stick” of their own to drag. Whether its a new program or additional job tasks. Compassionate leaders understand that the new task was undertaken because of an innate interest in the mind of the individual. An inspirational leader cares enough about those s/he leads that s/he allows them the freedom to take on new tasks. In an effort to show organizational support, the leader should help the person position him/herself and the various resources so that success can be gained. If the task proves to be too much down the road, the individual can make the choice while still feeling fully supported by the organization.
Who in your organization could use some help with a big stick problem that they are dragging along the path?
Yours in Education,
Dr. Gregg McGough, CRI Blogger/CRI Podcaster