Grow Up and Lead Us Already!

Most people watch other people. People are interesting. This happens in large scale arenas like at the mall, in the airport, and at the ballpark. Closer to home, it happens on a smaller, but more intimate scale at your workplace and in your family. So as a leader, guess who your followers are watching? In addition to watching their co-workers, they are also watching you.  Your people watch what you say, what you do, and who you are.

Did you clean your ears today?

Many times, as leaders, we find ourselves in a “microscope position.”  This is the position that we become specimens to be examined by our followers.  Under this intense scrutiny, many times our flaws are the first things that are revealed. Our blemishes become pronounced. Our imperfections get magnified. Our mistakes get amplified. Our ears need cleaning.

Newfound Leadership

I am 21 years old. I am a younger “next-generation leader” who is just getting started out in this big scary world of leading others. Recently, I found myself under this type of magnified scrutiny by people I work with. In this situation at work, something came up and an answer was needed. People were looking for solutions and for someone to react. Right away, I realized that I was the most powerful person in the room and that all eyes were on me for leadership. However, it was in that moment that I found myself at crossroads of what to do.

So what did I do in the heat of the moment? I balked and walked out of that room without doing a thing. FAIL!

After talking with my team afterward, the general consensus of the group is that I dropped the ball and walked out of the situation like a coward. They expressed disappointment at the lack of initiative and at the missed opportunity for them to get direction from someone they trusted. They said that they wanted me to just “grow up and lead us already!

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I had the tools, the competencies, and the character to carry out the task in front of me.  So what held me back?  I needed to pull together all of my tools, competencies, and character to serve my people who needed a leader. But sadly I didn’t. I felt more like an EPIC FAIL!

The most embarrassing part of the debacle was that my team had more confidence in me than I had in myself. They wanted me to take the lead and give them someone to follow.

Fear kept me from making my move:

What if they won’t follow me?
What if they think I am crazy?
Is what I want to do correct?
Will it be successful?

This cloud of negative questions swirling in my head is what held me back. I had to grow up.  I had to allow my confidence in my ability to make decisions overcome my doubt.  More importantly, I had to let my confidence in my people build me up to help me overcome that doubt. I had to go back to my training and bring out my best solution to get back to a place of influence.

To get them to follow me, I had to serve them.

Serving others is what people want from a leader. It makes it personal and effective for everyone involved. So this is what I committed to do from now on.  I promised myself I would have the courage to lead and not let them down again. Failure isn’t the end for me. It is just the beginning!

I will do better next time!

If I have learned anything in just leaving the gates on a long leadership journey ahead, I have learned that people are watching me. They are watching you, too. Our followers watch our every move, not because they have to, but because they want someone to follow. It is then our responsibility as leaders to set that tone, become the example, and give the people someone to follow.

How many times do you find yourself in that place of intense scrutiny where fear sets in and paralyzes you? What have you done to break the fear and get to the point of action? How do you get that dose of courage? How do we take the steps to help us grow up and lead?

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Caleb Duvall is Unit Director at Chick-fil-A
He can be reached at
calebduvall@gmail.com

Image Source: powerlineblog.com

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2 Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing. Good article. Wish you all the best in the journey of leadership. I remembered well of my boss’s advise “There is fine and thin line between leadership and arrogance.” Carefulness and caution need to be applied so that people will see us in the leadership quadrant rather than arrogant quadrant…..

  2. Caleb,

    I LOVE your authenticity! To be so candid and eager to learn at your age will likely take you a very long way in life. And you work for a company with amazing values that I deeply respect.

    Let me let you in on a little secret. I’ve been coaching executives for many years and the questions you say held you back are no different that the same questions leaders with 20 years experience ask on a daily basis. Leadership is often a very lonely place but you are absolutely right regarding what people want. The title of this blog post struck me immediately because I hear it from employees on a daily basis (well, maybe not the grow up part). People want you their leader to step up and make a decision (even if it ends up being the wrong one). It does get easier but I don’t think the questions ever really go away.

    Keep being yourself. It’s so refreshing to see.

    Mari Peck
    http://www.maripeck.blogspot.com

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