I was climbing into my car after a visit to one of our local leaders when I heard that last sentence. That year, I heard that same sentence several times. “I wish…” All of the leaders who voiced that thought were successfully leading their teams forward. Who would have thought that they would want a visit? Who would have thought that they needed it?
Thank you for coming. I wish my director came to visit me.
Not me. They were super confident, each one creatively approaching the mission with vigor, and relishing the opportunities to advance the Kingdom. They slew giants! They did eat problems for breakfast! Who would have thought?
Everyone needs affirmation, even your best people, maybe especially your best people. We are all human on the inside, no matter how superhuman we look on the outside. We don’t just want to be noticed, but to be seen, to be heard and understood, as we are. To be encouraged when truly known is such a gift.
Leaders often underestimate the value of that gift. We may think, “What do I have to offer this very successful person? They don’t need my advice – they are smart, creative, and going for it.” True, they probably don’t need you to solve their problems, BUT they do need to be noticed, encouraged, corrected (when needed), and applauded for the steps of faith they are taking each and every day. Even holding people accountable says that their work matters.
No one they are leading understands the joys, hurts, challenges, fears, and concerns like you do. Knowing their realities and the steps they are taking to change them reduces the distance that often exists between leadership levels. To be affirmed by one who understands the turf is a powerful motivator.
If you’re leading leaders, don’t be blinded by their strengths and great reports. See the person who needs to be understood and encouraged. Give the gift of affirmation. Give the gift of encouragement. Give the gift of feedback. By doing so, you are saying, “You matter.”