If you follow me on twitter, you’ve noticed a daily post for the last 6-8 weeks (if you want to see them, go to @realrickarpin on twitter). It started with these:
Today is the day that matters. Today I will treat others w/ kindness, respond w/ patience and mercy, and above all clothe myself w/ love.
I will be a positive leader. Adversity will come, lots of it. But it won’t stop me from encouraging, listening to, and appreciating others.
I will build rapport and relationships with others. I will put myself “out there” to the point where I am uncomfortable.
Relationships are what matter. I will learn more about those around me, and share my story with them.
In my last four posts, I explained why I came to do affirmations, and how I came up with the first set of affirmations.
Today I will discuss my fifth (and final at this point) affirmation:
I will ask, not tell: I will ask questions so others learn; I will not give them the answers or do the work myself.
This affirmation is about me becoming a multiplier. I have always been a good teacher, but many times I miss opportunities to teach by taking on work myself, not involving others in “higher level” processes, and missing teaching moments when time seems short. These each are incredible chances to teach others:
- Not doing the work myself. I got this habit in college, always doing too much of the work in group projects. The better way is through collaboration, proper explanation of the vision of the work, proper project planning, and accountability. Work can take longer, but it gets done better because it is a team process, not an individual process. And for this affirmation, importantly, those involved in the work LEARN.
- Not involving others in higher level processes. Particularly at the start of a complex initiative, I need to get others up to speed quickly and not take any meetings alone or hold information to myself (confidentiality and other factors of course to be taken into account). If I keep the info close, this one becomes related to the first one – I get so far in by myself that it seems inefficient to get others “up to speed” and I will just keep going on my own.
- Missing teaching moments when time seems short. It’s “easy” (or at least easier) to ask questions when you know you don’t have any more meetings for the day, or there is a break between meetings. It’s harder to ask questions when time is short. But I have to focus on asking some threshold questions, getting folks going on some work, and then ensuring regular check-ins for more questions. In this way, they get the learning and I don’t give them answers – but I also don’t set them up for failure by sending them off without enough guidance.
I feel like a lot of leaders have issues in this area, because we were once functional “experts” who got promoted because of our speed, quality work and dependability. But we have to give up some of that to be truly better leaders. I also tell newer leaders they will learn this lesson the easy way now or the hard way later, as it only gets harder to delegate effectively when you have more responsibility.