It has been aptly said that leading leaders is like herding cats. The imagery indicates that each cat has a mind of his or her own and a plan for what they will and will not do. Cats are rarely compliant or cooperative. Trying to lead a group of leaders does have similarities to organizing a group of felines for a common purpose.
But what about leading with leaders? How do you manage when you are part of a group of leaders working together on a project? This is the situation many find themselves in when they are part of a search committee, task force, event team, or project for which they are not personally responsible to lead the group, but for which their input matters.
Below are two things not to do and three things to do that will prove helpful for the group as well as your own personal and professional development:
1. Don’t Compare: Compare and despair is the tested saying that indicates what normally happens when we compare ourselves to others. We either compare our weaknesses to their strengths or vice-versa. Either way we end up with a distorted picture of ourselves and others. God made us unique and comparing ourselves with others for the purpose of determining our value is unhelpful and potentially damaging.
2. Don’t Compete: Leaders are competitors. They want to win. When there is a room full of leaders, there may be a desire to win at something other than the presented objective. We may try to win an argument against a brother or sister. We may try to appear as the smartest or most important person in the room. Again, this is unhelpful and may hinder the progress of the group or mission. Consider finding ways to help others win by affirming their suggestions, expressing appreciation for their contributions, and holding back to see if someone else raises your thought or question.
3. Do Compliment: Recognize that if you are part of a task force, committee, project team, or other team, your voice matters for the success of the group. You are there because your perspective compliments the work of others. No one else has your exact history or experience. Discover what you add to the group and contribute accordingly.
4. Do Cooperate: Try to get along with others in the room. I once served with a church member whose philosophy on church business meetings was to vote against everything that was brought up unless he could be convinced to do otherwise. I think the opposite is a better practice. Believe the best about others and strive to cooperate unless you are convinced that you cannot.
5. Do Connect: Keep the relationship going outside the meeting. Proverbs 13:20 says that if you will spend time with wise people then you will become wise yourself. Consider what you can learn from others in the room or on the committee or task force. Proverbs 27:17 says that iron sharpens iron. When you cooperate with a group of leaders, you may not only complete a task or project, you may also grow as a leader.
If you and I avoid these two don’ts and apply the three do’s then we will be a helpful contributor to the project and avoid doing harm to ourselves and others. What have you learned from leading with leaders? Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your story.