As a leader, where’s your heart?

2013_Fulks_MSH_0020During the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the honor of introducing our founder and executive director Dayton Moore before he’s spoken to two groups. One was a group of Kansas City area business professionals, hosted by a realty group. The second was (mainly) Christian business leaders. I’ve introduced Dayton at events before, but in these two latest times, it was appropriate to talk about him as a leader. And, in both instances, when talking about Dayton as a leader, I mentioned that he can be a “pusher.” The thing is, though, whereas some leaders are met with resistance when they push, generally that’s not the case with Dayton. People working around and for Dayton learn quickly that his heart is in the right spot. (That’s even highlighted through a couple stories in More Than a Season.)

In those two instances, I was making that statement about Dayton to business groups, but the audiences included people who are, of course, spouses, parents, community volunteers, active in their churches, youth coaches, etc. Think about it: at some point, somewhere, at least 99% of us are leaders.

Here are five questions you can ask of yourself to see if your leadership heart is in the right place:

  1. Am I concerned about the performance of those around me because of how they look or how I look? Besides business, this is a great question for parents and coaches. I’m reminded of coaching my oldest son’s baseball team last year. At the time, he was between seventh and eighth grades, and more than half of our team was made up of guys who couldn’t find another team. It took us a few weeks of practice and games to get things to click. In fact, our record was 2-6 after our first eight games. The players were working hard in practice and playing well together, but it wasn’t evident during games. The Bad News Bears would’ve been proud. As the head coach who saw the differences between practices and games, I felt I had to apologize to our parents. Was I embarrassed because our players looked like they’d just started learning baseball? Or did I think their play was a direct reflection on me? You guessed it. My ego probably got in the way a bit, making me think I needed to apologize to the parents.
  2. If I give this person a task and he or she fails, what will be my reaction, both immediately and then a few days later? Getting upset in the heat of the moment is one thing — and it’s human nature. But do I continue to be critical a day or two later, or am I trying to help make sure the mistake isn’t made again? (Along those lines, will my reaction be a reflection of whether I know the intricacies of the assigned task? Do I really know how to check the seventh fetzer valve to see if it’s sticking?)
  3. Am I following the “Golden Rule” in the way I treat my people or am I approaching them with constant criticism and a lack of respect? Of course, this doesn’t apply only to leadership. This is a sign of your true character in life. Using Dayton as an example, I think a quote he gave a few minutes after Game 5 of the 2015 World Series is a direct reflection of how he treats people. “I’m happy for our clubhouse guys,” Dayton told a reporter shortly after the Royals won the World Series. “For them to get that [postseason] share money, that’s huge. Those guys work so hard, and that’s life-changing stuff. That’s why you do this. That’s what makes it special.” I’ve seen Dayton in enough situations, around enough different types of people, to know how he treats others. That quote speaks to what I’ve seen.
  4. Have I invested in the personal lives of the people around me? This isn’t to suggest you have to be a counselor to everyone around you or invite everyone to your house for dinner. But, do you know whether your direct reports at work are going through issues with their spouses or children that may affect performance? Do you know whether your children are going through issues at school that may affect things at home?
  5. Do I want the people around me to succeed now for their future or mine? This probably applies more to business than anything else … at least I hope you want your children and other family members to succeed for their well-being. This is similar to No. 1, because, ultimately, it comes down to ego. But let’s use sports as an example. When you look at well-run professional sports organizations and college programs, general managers and head coaches (or managers) are creating a culture of success for everyone. How many of K-State football coach Bill Snyder’s assistants have gone on to build winning programs elsewhere? How many of KU basketball coach Bill Self’s assistants have gone on to become head coaches elsewhere? Same in professional sports. Look at legendary San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh, whose coaching offspring includes Chiefs coach Andy Reid, not to mention George Seifert and Mike Holmgren, among others. We have not talked about it, but I’m relatively confident that Dayton Moore would like to see his assistant general managers get opportunities as Major League general managers one day. It’s an interesting dilemma for coaches and general managers, because on one hand they hate to lose their top people, but the coaches and GMs that truly care, want to see their people succeed. The same can be said for any business.

There likely are other questions that can be asked, but as you lead people throughout this week and the rest of this month, take a few minutes to reflect on these five questions. If the answers are “no” or focus on you, there’s a chance your heart isn’t in the right place.

So, as a leader, where’s your heart right now?



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