Something profound happened to me the other day. We had a church leadership meeting of women in the church. It was an interesting meeting for me because I did not think it took the form of a formal meeting which I thought it was or maybe because there seemed to be no set agenda that I personally related to. For someone who is somewhat of an order freak, that there was the first tell tell sign of an interesting meeting to come. What also placed me in a weird space was the whole notion that most of the members turned up rather late for the meeting. They were an hour late and they said they had communicated but that for me did not make sense since I did not see any communication at all. Well that being said, the meeting started off on a sour note because I expressed my disappointment in no uncertain terms of the delay and also that right there did not help at all! The result was tension when the meeting started. Was I wrong? Yes I was wrong because of my timing, tone of voice and choice of words to express my dismay. What I however will stick my head out for are the principles that I felt were violated and the greatest one being punctuality. Whatever occurred, this whole incident served as a critical leadership learning moment and one that awoke something within me that I thought would be worth sharing from a reflective point of view.
- Having arrived at least ten minutes prior to the stipulated time that the meeting was supposed to start, the venue was still locked twenty minutes later and the owners of the house (who happen to be our pastors) were nowhere to be found. It was soaking wet because there was a massive downpour. However, being in my car did not pacify the anger I felt swelling up as I felt that people were seemingly not serious about this meeting. At least access to the venue would have been a plus. First leadership lesson there was not to take people for granted and after learning that they had passed through the shops to get some bread that had nothing to do with the meeting, I realized that sometimes as leaders, we take people for grated. We let our bad planning constitute an emergency on other people’s part and that is simply inconsiderate on our part. We need to be organized as leaders and respect the people we lead especially when we volunteer our homes to be venues for meetings. Again, I learnt that anger can be a powerful tool of destruction if dwelt upon as the more I waited the more the inner critic crept in and provided all sorts of unnecessary scenarios that made the situation even worse especially for me as I waited. Moreover, I did learn that being present helps me as a leader to be in control of my emotions in any circumstance.
- There was an impromptu meeting with the pastor, his wife, an early bird and it was fruitful. I learnt here that sometimes delays are just opportunities waiting to happen. I was able to pick up on some major insights concerning the desires of the leadership of the church. I thought that was quite interesting and refreshing to hear them share their views on various issues ranging from the church issues to child rearing.
- When the other sisters eventually arrived and tried to explain how their car’s battery had gone flat and made them get stuck, it fell on deaf ears for those that had been early. However, on reflection, I realized that at a personal level, I should have given them ample time to explain and should have been calmer and more present within myself to hear them out. I learnt that listening is an important skill as a leader and that no matter what happens, we should never let our emotions cloud our judgment as leaders. Tapping into the heart of others expressing themselves is important for a leader to be responsive in a dignified and honorable manner that des not “damage” relations and ensure a healthy participating environment. This means listening to both verbal and non-verbal communication and also harnessing the ego so that one can simply be alive to the reality of a situation.
- Clarity is essential for progress. As leaders, it is important that when we call for meetings of any nature we are clear on the agenda, duration of the meeting and that we hold the space we lead with confidence that enables progress and achievement of goals. This I learnt from how we went about the meeting using the popcorn methodology of participating, which did not help in bringing about a consensual way of proceeding. Moreover the absence of a clear agenda seemed to derail the engagements and this resulted in the meeting taking longer than it should have.
- The “confrontation” helped me learn that there is ALWAYS an alternative way of sharing ones views or opinions as a leader no matter how desolate a situation looks. It is more like telling someone to go to hell and they personally run there smiling. Another lesson was that choice of words are important especially when a leader communicates something that does not necessarily fall into the positive way of things.
That being said, I trust that as leaders we will be able to take each moment we live as a learning point. Remember sometimes it is in life’s seemingly intense moments that we can actually draw the beauty of life and find meaning for ourselves as leaders. Happy leading to you!