Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Helicopter Leading

My Dad bought a remote control helicopter. It is fun to direct it around a room. Especially, around the head of one of my brothers. Of course my brothers get annoyed at this hovering. Which has lead to the term helicopter parenting; parents who do and control everything for their children. They hover over their children at all times.

Tim Elmore of Growing Leaders has a great three part blog on the subject. He uses three words to change our focus; describe, connect, interpret. The discussion is centered on parenting and leading youth. But it can work with leadership at any level. Here are the points Tim Elmore makes:
  • Describe do not prescribe. Describe what the desired outcome will look like. Description allows someone to find their own path with all the struggles involved. Instead of laying out each step there is a chance to be develop creativity and ambition.
  • Connect without controlling. If we try to make everything safe, removing all chance of failure, the person being lead never has a chance to gain from experience. The lessons learned in failure or having to change plans are all lost.
  • Interpretation has replaced information. My six year old is able to Google most information he wants. Information is available to almost everyone. What people need is a way to interpret the information.
Two truths apply: everyone has a worldview and the value of struggle. God describes the lack of worldview beautifully; "Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth." Ephesians 4:14-15.

How are you giving the people you lead a way to interpret their world? Do they understand the values that are important to your family or organization? Take time to talk about the values that matter to you. Reinforce those values when they are demonstrated by behavior.

The second truth involves challenges. God lays out a process in Romans 5:3-4. Difficulty with perseverance develops character which leads to hope. How are providing challenging opportunities for those you lead? Then you must step back and let them struggle through the challenge. It is the best way to develop character, self esteem, and new skills.

Of course all of this must be accomplished through relationship. You must connect before you can be heard and expect them to take on the challenge. How much time have you taken to listen this week to those you lead?