The Eyes of a Leader

What do you see when your team members talk to you about a project, in a meeting, about a goal, what they’re working on, or anything for that matter?  

Maybe that’s not the right question.  Maybe the question is what are you not seeing?  What is passing you by?  Are there things you are not observing?

Why is this important? 

The way we see people is the way we treat people.  

Many leaders view their team members as transactional objects.  They are hired to do a job and perform a task and produce something.  A return on investment is what’s expected.  And that’s not completely wrong, indeed we all need to bring value to the organization in which we work.  But simply viewing people that way is the same way we view a machine.  It’s very cold.

My wife and I are going through the Netflix series The Crown.  In season 3, episode 3, and much of it revolves around the reality that the “Sovereign” is removed and distant from her constituents.  She is above and they are below.  There is a poignant moment when the Queen is talking to the Prime Minister and says, “for a long time, I have felt there is something deficient in me,” (my paraphrase as remembered) and begins to recount her inability to show emotion or empathy.  She is detached from her constituents and she knows it. She is not just physically detached but emotionally detached. 

People want to be seen in their humanness.  The real person.  The whole person. And they want to know their leaders know them, understand them, and empathize with them.  At least know them in their struggles, longings, joys and sorrows.  

A leader then must be able to see people with their heart.  When you see people with your heart you are able to see beyond their exterior and into their lives. In a second you can begin to imagine what kind of stuff they might be dealing with.  

A leader who sees people with their heart is a true servant leader.  When you see people with your heart you lead with your heart.  And when you lead with your heart, people follow.  They follow not out of obligation, but because they want to.  They go to work joyfully, willingly, with energy and purpose.  

Do you want to be a great leader that people willingly follow?  What are your eyes seeing as you look at those you lead? 

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