I love summer for a number of reasons. Besides the warm weather and family vacation, I love the extra window of time summer adds for reading. There are so many books and so little time, but here are a few books on my summer reading list:
“Squirrel!” If you’ve seen the Academy Award-winning animated movie “Up”, you’ve watched “Dug” the talking dog and his talking dog colleagues get immediately and completely distracted by the sight or sound of squirrels. It doesn’t matter what they are doing, Dug and his companions get sight of a squirrel and everything momentarily stops. In some instances, they can’t regain their focus or have completely gotten off track because of their squirrel distraction.
Does this sound familiar? While you might not get distracted by squirrels in the literal sense, many leaders are tempted by ‘squirrels’ that go by other names. Your ‘squirrels’ may be exciting new ideas or possibilities, the next invitation, the new job advertisement or the continual stream of e-communication. Whatever your ‘squirrels’ are, they temporarily capture your attention, distract you from the important, blur focus, take up emotional RAM and sometimes get you completely off track.
Here are three practical tools to keep you focused in the midst of possible distractions:
In my last leadership tip of the week I gave you four insights to help you maintain perspective as a second chair leader. This week’s tip looks at six best practices that will help you maximize your impact as second in command.
1. Build Trust
Trust has been called the currency of leadership and second chair leaders need to actively build a ‘trust bank account’ with their first chair leader. Deposits need to be made over time through delivering your deliverables with excellence, clear and regular communication, effective execution, dependability, strong work ethic, good decisions, positive attitude, listening, encouragement, etc. What is your ‘account balance’ with your first chair?
What could we do to take our time together to the next level?
This simple check-in question provides an intentional opportunity for the mentee and mentor to reflect and evaluate the mentoring relationship and meetings. It gives both participants the chance to provide and receive some feedback with the goal of growing and improving the mentoring relationship.
These four quick tips will help you maintain perspective and a healthy attitude if you sit in the second leadership chair.
1. Second Chair Isn’t Second Class
We seem to be conditioned to think that first chair leadership is better or more worthy than second chair leadership. This simply isn’t true. For starters, not everyone is wired for or called to first chair leadership. So, trying to make yourself ‘fit’ into the first chair may be extremely frustrating and could even be an act of disobedience. There is a lot more to successful leadership than your position or title.
2. Only One Leader Is Perfect
The view from the second chair can make it fairly easy to track a first chair leader’s foibles and fumbles. If you are ever tempted to dwell on your first chair’s liabilities, just remember that there has only been one perfect leader – Jesus.
I was having lunch with a friend of Arrow a few months ago. In my new role as President of Arrow in Canada, I have been inviting input to guide my leadership so I asked for his advice as I start this new role. His response surprised me – “Be thankful.”
As I pondered this advice, my friend shared that we often get too focused on all the challenges before us or we get too caught up in the busyness of life and leadership or we are simply consumed by the future and all its possibilities. In any case, my friend shared that we forget to be thankful for all the blessings and work God is doing right around us.
A Weed Called Entitlement
When we believe we ‘deserve’ or are ‘due’, our expectations undermine and even eliminate thankfulness.
This simple advice has both convicted and challenged me. I have also added another root cause behind not being thankful. It’s a nasty weed called entitlement. When we believe we ‘deserve’ or are ‘due’, our expectations undermine and even eliminate thankfulness. We simply expect and as a consequence we miss the gift and only expect more. We also miss the opportunity to express thankfulness to God and to others.