Leader Support – Lessons From a 12 Year Old
I had the opportunity over the weekend to learn some valuable and important lessons about how significant leader support is, from my 12-year-old son.
Youth in my church are often asked to prepare a 3-5 minute talk to deliver to our congregation of about 300 on any given Sunday. Through the years I have appreciated this opportunity for my children because of the challenge involved, the chance to immerse themselves in an assigned topic and an occasion to improve their public speaking skills.
I have spoken hundreds of times in my church mainly due to the leadership positions I have held. While I admit to having a tinge of nervousness on occasion, it really isn’t that difficult for me to do. I have spoken in front of congregations of 300 to several thousand.
This weekend my son was asked to speak, and it would be his first time. My wife quickly (real quick) pointed out that this would be a great opportunity for me to help him. I started off by giving him some high level guidance and told him to come back to me when he believed that he had a talk ready to deliver. A day later he presented it to me. I was actually surprised at how good it really was. We went through it, adjusted a couple of things and then rehearsed it, the same day he was supposed to deliver it. I didn’t think a 3-5 minute talk was that big of a deal – that is until… it was.
As he started to rehearse the talk, his lower lip began to quiver and small tears began to form. I asked him what was wrong? He said he was nervous. I tried to give him every bit of positive encouragement and kind word I could. He still couldn’t get through the talk without getting really emotional. Eventually after eight or so rehearsals he was able to get through it. I was proud of him for using every bit of courage he could muster up, and he ended up doing a really good job.
However, I learned a few things about leader support as a parent and as a leader in business to help me support those I lead better. Especially as it relates to those that are new to a job or specific assignment.
- Don’t make assumptions. Good leader support requires that you don’t assume others have the same experience that you do. I made this mistake with my 12-year-old son. To me a 3-5 minute talk was a piece of cake. To him it was the most difficult thing he had ever done to that point in his 12 years of life!
- Give plenty of time. Those new to a job or assignment need adequate time to complete the task. Waiting until the day of the talk to rehearse did not work for my son. It would have worked for me due to the length and simplicity of the topic (again, that assumption thing), but it wasn’t good for him. It made him more nervous.
- Follow up more. If I had followed up more on how he was doing with this talk I could have helped address his concerns earlier and more frequently. Again, that “assumption thing” got in the way. I assumed that when he was ready he would come to me. That was not the case.
- Be positive. Fortunately for me this wasn’t a lesson I had to learn. I was plenty positive and really feel that made the difference in getting him over the hump and mustering the courage to deliver the talk. I told him he could do it, that his talk was really good and that he was well liked by everyone in the congregation. Solid leader support requires that you be genuinely positive with those you lead.
Keeping the above points in mind can help you provide the needed leader support. What other things have you found helpful in supporting those you lead? I welcome your comments below. Thanks and Happy Leading!
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