In case you haven’t already noticed, I like to try and take mundane (or occasionally, but rarely even quite fun) situations and try and liken them to leadership in some way. One of the things that has amazed me most since I started this ‘blog journey’ of mine is how easy it is to gain insight from pretty much any every day scenario if you look hard enough. You should know that I have a favourite pair of jeans…you should also know that in the knee of those jeans I have a hole that a small dog could crawl into, should it so feel the need…
…It’s neither pretty nor comfortable. On my lunch break (as a man, I can confidently say that it’s possible to do a stack of clothes shopping in ooh, around twenty minutes), I rushed into town and bought not just a pair of jeans, but a enough tops to last me a year too. Here are some observations from my bi-annual clothes shop:
1. Some clothes get old – time to refresh.
The reality is that clothes get old. There is a lifespan attached to your clothes if you wear them often enough. The pair of jeans that I’m about to throw away are the most comfortable jeans that I’ve ever owned – but however I look at it, they aren’t fit for the purpose anymore and need to go. Maybe some of your clothes have gone out of fashion; I’m not saying that you should religiously, blindly follow fashion but it’s worth taking note now and again – sometimes clothes are in fashion because they are actually quite good! In these cases, it’s time to refresh the clothes you wear.
Maybe you’ve approached every situation with exactly the same leadership style for your whole life and the effect it used to have isn’t there anymore. Perhaps that way of doing things is getting old or there are newer, more effective ways of doing the same thing (it’s important to say here that just like fashion, it’s worth assessing whether these are just fads or not). In leadership, we must be prepared to grow, to refresh and potentially change our leadership style completely if we want to have maximum impact. Often either pride or apprehension get in the way of us being willing to looking beyond our comfy old style. Perhaps the way you used to lead that group or meeting has become tired and stale – is it time for something new?
2. You might like a certain look, but that doesn’t mean it fits.
I saw a pair of sunglasses today that I really liked the look of. The best part? They were only £4 – bargain! Everything was so perfect…until I tried them on. If you can imagine Frankenstein’s monster trying to pull off a ‘rock-the-shades’ look, then you’re probably not too far away from my sunglasses experience. Suffice to say, I didn’t buy them.
The thing is, I love how other people look with the sunglasses that I wanted to buy, but the truth is that they just don’t suit me. My overwhelmingly large head seems to be allergic to any kind of facial decoration…unfortunately, that’s just something I’m going to have to come to terms with. You might love the way TD Jakes delivers a sermon, or you might dream of being a pretty cool entrepreneur like Blake Mycoskie (founder of TOMS shoes…take a look if you’ve never heard of them), but that doesn’t mean that it’ll suit you. The way your boss leads a team isn’t necessarily the best way for you to lead a team – what is good for one isn’t necessarily good for all. The key is finding your own style. Other people can guide you for sure, but when it comes down to it, you have to make the decision as to whether or not the leadership ‘look’ your going for is working for you. Is it really you in there or a cheap imitation of someone else?
3. New clothes come at a price
Unfortunately, replacing my scraggy old jeans came at a price. I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say that the worst part of clothes shopping is the handing-over-your-money part. Never a pleasant experience. However much we dislike it, we have to sacrifice something we own in order to own something else. In this case, it’s a financial transaction.
Transforming your own leadership style comes at a price. For me, the biggest transformation in my leadership is how I relate to people pastorally; how to show people grace. I find it really hard – I have been known to be pretty merciless on the odd occasion. Over the last few years it’s been a difficult journey and very often I’ve had to sacrifice my time, my energy and almost always my pride in order to learn and improve. I’m much, much better than I used to be, but I’ve still got an awfully long way to go. As a result, the sacrifice must continue if I want to be the best that I can be. Have you had a similar experience with any aspect of your leadership?
So there you have it, my observations on clothes shoppings. I want to finish today’s post by asking you a few questions:
- – Is there any part of your leadership style that needs refreshing?
- – Are you sure that the ‘leadership look’ you are pursuing is the one that fits you best?
- – Are you willing to pay the required price to get there?