I solve most of my challenges and work through hard decisions while I am out running. Therefore, it was no surprise to me that a challenge that I didn’t really think I needed a solution to popped up on a recent run.
As I ran, I kept thinking about conversations I had been having with one of my employees and was frustrated that I couldn’t seem to break through to him the importance of being mindful about his work and not just wandering around when he was trying to figure out what to do next. I was trying to explain to him that the biggest thing he needed to work on was not dwelling on the task he was doing or had just finished. I was trying to get him to be thinking two steps ahead of what he was doing so that he could just flow from one task to another and not wander between tasks.
The challenge is that I am a pretty intense person, full of passion and lots of energy. I believe I communicate well but with this one particular person, the intensity isn’t what he needs because he hasn’t exactly been treated to bosses that care about him as a person. His experiences have been a lot of being yelled at, being let go because he made a mistake and generally bosses that cared more about their goals and achievements than cared about their worker’s goals and achievements.
As I kept running realizing that I needed a new approach, the phrase “you can’t put new wine in old wineskins” kept jumping into my head. Followed of course by the song “New Wine” by Hillsong quickly jumping into my already crowded mind and let’s just say I quickly began to get the message.
Solving Problems on the Run
One of the biggest mistakes we can make as leaders is to strive to get new results out of the old methods and behaviors we have used. Expecting better results by doing the same old thing is most likely not going to happen.
Now I had a potential dilemma. Should I change the way I communicate or was there something deeper going on? The surface approach as I ran was to just change the way I communicate. Mellow my talks out, be a little less intense and passionate and ratchet it down a couple of notches.
Just as I hit about the halfway point and needed to make the right turn to run back to the office, all the thoughts flowing through my head all of a sudden focused on a very firm foundation. The overlying foundational thought was not that I had to change the way I speak but rather to allow the heart I speak from to be remolded and to speak from a new heart.
This is where I began to trust the saying “put new wine into new wineskins” and began to process how I could change my heart towards bringing the best out of my people so they can become the best versions of who they are being made to be.
Running Into the Best Version of Me
As I cruised the last mile, I realized that this is precisely what leaders should always seek to be getting to.
Leadership is more about the person you are becoming and allowing yourself to be molded into a better version of you than it is about getting more performance out of the people you are leading. We will all be better leaders if we are constantly asking ourselves whether we’re just trying to get better results being the same people we were yesterday or whether we are willing to be changed and conformed to be better versions of ourselves so we can achieve better results.