Leaders Restore

People that choose to lead make mistakes that hurt people from time to time. Should we be surprised? The pressures of managing client expectations, employee desires, and other stakeholder expectations make possibilities for conflict nearly endless.

Whenever possible, the exemplary leader takes the path towards restoration after an offense.

What is restoration?

Restoration is the return of something to a former, original, normal, or unimpaired condition.

This can’t happen by without effort and we may not know how long it might take. We may not succeed as full restoration takes effort by both individuals. Since we know we can’t change another person, we are left to consider our next steps.

What is our responsibility?

We begin by uncrossing our arms. In shepherding ourselves we know the first step in making change begins in us. We choose to own and admit our mistakes.

What action do we take?

Be open.

Think of openness as extending our hands outwards; palms up. When we care enough we can listen to those we have hurt without rebuttal and can own all of it (regardless if it is fair). This is what makes us different; the kind of leader others are waiting to follow.

Model it

I remember having a leader who was built to lead me. Early in my leadership journey he listened to my concerns and put up with my complaining about how things didn’t work as I thought they should. At times, I would say or write things that were too direct and this put people off. In retrospect, I’m not sure if I was right or not, but I always had an opinion. And I just knew mine was the right one.

My leader would gently find ways to bring me around to understanding that the only way to make change would be for me to ‘own it’.

“But, that’s not fair!“, I would object.

His reply would come back softly, “Maybe not, but what good does it do you to concern yourself with that?”

Accepting that advice was hard for me; especially at first. I had to deal with my own pride and over time and practice I have gotten better at taking responsibility and tempering my opinions.  I’ve found that leaders grow through their trials.

Respecting others is the path towards restoration.

Giving respect also opens new possibilities to become an instrument of change in our organization.

The lesson

I learned that unless I wanted to live as a victim of others’ actions, restoration required me to act. It would be the only way I could change the environment and influence those closest to me. I am so thankful I made that decision. I wish I could report that this kind of leading is pain-free. It isn’t. We need to be okay with that. Restoration of any kind requires sacrifice.

What’s next

What about you? Is there something or someone holding you back? What if you chose to just “own it anyway”?

Shepherding: The art of becoming the leader others want to follow