Aug 01 The #1 Secret Weapon to Buzz-Worthy Leadership
When I left my corporate job for a one-year sabbatical, the question of who would replace me came up. I made what I thought was a logical recommendation to a colleague.
The individual was familiar with the work, had a stellar relationship with the primary customer, and was at the top of the ‘next in line’ list. The response from the colleague? “You’re right, she’s incredibly qualified and the customer would be thrilled, but I don’t think she’ll be successful. She’s just too nice.”
Are we adding ‘competent and qualified and must possess a sharp tongue’ to the job requirements???
After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I began to contemplate this viewpoint. Can you only lead effectively if you are a jerk?
One of the things I focused on during my sabbatical was being more aware of the signs and wisdom buzzing past me. I wanted to be more mindful of connections and lessons I was missing because I was too busy with my nose in my phone, reading email and responding to urgent text messages. I want to receive what the world has to teach me.
This week three things connected that reminded me of this conversation. A honey bear, a kitchen towel, and an email.
When I was a youngster, my mother tried her best to keep me from eating junk food. There was no soda in the house or candy or Pop Tarts. To this day, I can barely look at tofu because of its pervasiveness in my childhood diet.
But she did allow one regular indulgence. A dollop squeezed onto the tip of my outstretched tongue from a plastic honey bear in the cupboard. Sweet golden honey. It was divine and I remember every detail about that bear.
It’s much the same for our words. We remember how they taste in our mouth when we say them and how they feel when we have to digest them.
What are the words that you are saying to yourself? Are you leading yourself with kindness? Even if we don’t believe that we are too hard on ourselves or use negative self-talk, it is important to also measure how we lift up our own spirit. It is work to purposely take time every day to give yourself a squeeze from the honey bear, to choose sweet and gracious words for your own inner dialogue. We are the greatest influence over our own happiness, but we often skip over the work of investing in our own nurturing. You must first be kind to yourself so you can be kind to others. This is not a luxury, it is a universal truth.
Being raised in the South, there are many other universal truths passed down from grandmothers to younger generations.
One reverberates through my house in the form of a kitchen towel given to me by a dear friend… “Honey catches more flies than vinegar.” Now you may not be in the fly catching business but I think the implied meaning comes through.
Somehow I think we are forget this lesson in leadership. The need to armor up and create distance has made curt and harsh language the response instead of grace and kindness.
I choose to believe those grandmothers know better. I’m following their advice…
The last connection that I thankfully didn’t miss came in the form of a weekly email. It is a regular communication I get to start my week off on a purposeful path. Sometimes it’s a quote or inspiring story and sometimes it’s a verse of wisdom, as it was this particular week.
Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24
Did you know that when beekeepers extract the honey from the comb, it is left intact? This is true for the sharing of gracious words. Time and time again we can go back to our honeycomb for more sweetness to fill up others. We are not depleted or diminished, our leadership authority is not compromised.
Like us, the bee can give the sweetness of honey or the hurt of their stinger.
True leadership does not require the sting of the sharp tongue. In it’s best form, leaders embody the universal truths of the honey bear.
Gracious words hold the highest level of power.
We can change a conversation, a perception, and a path with kindness.
Every day strive to be sweet to yourself and pour that into others.