Hey Leaders... Safety First!
Every one of us is a leader somewhere - at work, at home, in our friend circle, within a group or an organization. But are we being a SAFE leader?
Join in today to learn more about the importance of being a safe person, especially when when you have others in your charge.
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ACOUSTIC GUITAR # 1 by Jason Shaw https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Jason_Shaw
Creative Commons — Attribution 4.0 International License
My daughter and I were shopping. That alone is a breaking news story. Because I hate shopping. And I can’t totally remember the circumstances, but we must have been together and HAD to stop for something. Because we don’t go out shopping together for fun, for pleasure, or just something to do. That is something Tarryn would do with her dad. They both like shopping.
But whatever were the conditions, I remember we were walking together, side by side, through the doors and into the store… And Tarryn said something to me that initially made me laugh, but I’ve been thinking about ever since.
She said this, “Mom, I like shopping with you because I feel safer than if I was shopping with dad.”
Now, can you see why I laughed? Because within a split second, my mind envisioned all this danger that could be waiting for her in a store, and my little 5’,2” in structure saving her life from it all.
I could easily fight the bad guys with my extraordinary strength, hold up a falling shelf threatening to smush her, extinguish a fire with my own breath. I went right to all these silly scenarios, wondering why she thought I’d be better equipped to handle them, over her father. But I didn’t say all this out loud, I just thought it, and laughed.
So, she responded to my laugh with her own and said, “No, I’m serious. I feel safer with you because you would handle something that happens, where dad would just leave the situation.
And again, without much processing time, because we were walking and talking at the same time and I’m just not a multitasker, I laughed again and said, “so you feel safer with me because dad is a nicer person and will leave a situation that seems to be unsafe or where there is some kind of conflict, while you think I’m kind of mean so I’ll stay there and fight”.
And she said, “yes”.
And then we both laughed.
For different reasons.
I think she was laughing because it sounded so funny hearing it back, but it was still what she meant.
I laughed, nervously, because I knew my head was going to spin around this for quite some time.
And it has. And not in a way where I am upset or insecure or worried about it. I’ve just been searching for more of the unsaid in the conversation.
Tarryn doesn’t think I’m tougher or stronger than her dad. Although she will tell him she does think that because she loves to pick on him with me in her corner. All in good fun.
But Tarryn needs to know that if she feels unsafe, the person she’s with doesn’t. Or at least she’ll never know if they do, because they would go to battle for her.
My husband is not afraid when he walks away from conflict. I mean maybe he is when he’s walking away from me, but generally speaking, he has more of an attitude that says, “I’m not wasting my time or energy fighting with you.” That’s his personality. And sometimes I envy it.
Tarryn knows, that I am more inclined to “deal” with it. Or “handle” it.
In the face of conflict, I’m more apt to address it, shall we say.
It’s not that my way is better, or Ian’s way is better. It’s the fact that according to Tarryn’s needs, when she feels unsafe, my way happens to restore her sense of safety in a way that avoiding conflict does not.
And I think that’s the biggest take away I got from that short little conversation we had on a forced shopping trip.
Sometimes, we are not what someone needs, even though we want to be there for that person, and be their everything.
Sometimes we can shift ourselves to match their needs, and sometimes we need to help them find the person they need more than us in a particular situation.
I am not Tarryn’s everything. I can’t be. And it is because I am inclined to address conflict. She will tell her dad things she needs handled with more care. She will talk to her brothers according to her needs and their inclinations of responses.
And this isn’t about avoiding accountability or going to who will tell you only what you want to hear. It’s about knowing your needs and knowing who best meets them.
We have a couple episodes on this topic. One called, “But I don’t want to be needy”, and another titled, “Your role is my responsibility”. Those episodes are back-to-back in August of 2021. Check ‘em out. They really unpack the difference between having needs and being needy, as well as understanding that no one can meet all our needs. And to demand it is unfair.
And so, because those episodes already exist, I’m not going to rehash all of that today, but I want to expand a bit instead.
Because the people Tarryn was looking at that day, were her parents, yes… but essentially they were the leaders of her family. The leaders of her home. The people who really, not so much are in charge of the home, but realize that the home and family they have, are in their charge.
Being in charge and understanding something is IN your charge feels like two different things. One feels like being the boss, and the other feels like having great responsibility to take care of people around you.
And I want to know that if I have anyone in my charge, they feel like they are also under my wing. And I’m not always great at that. But again, much of that depends on what it is that the people around me NEED, to feel safe, with me being in any kind of leadership.
And this is leadership at work, in the home, within friend groups or organizations. We don’t all belong in a position of leadership everywhere , but we are all leaders somewhere.
What does it take to be a leader who allows people to feel safe?
And I don’t think we can just look on the surface of leadership roles and how they do what they do. Because you will see situations where leaders are willing to sacrifice their lives for the people they work with. This could be those who are in emergency services. First responders. Fighting fires, going into dangerous situations to save lives.
But again, we can look into other settings, business settings where leaders are willing to sacrifice the people they work with to make record sales or a cut-throat competitive reputation.
What is the difference? It’s not that all the good people are first responders, and all the bad people are in business. That’s not it at all and we know that.
I think when we really look at it, it’s the environment in which we find ourselves, AND THEN who is there with us.
Because like I said, Tarryn said she felt safer with me when she is out of the house and out in the world, but I’m not her person in many other situations.
Her who, depends on her circumstances and the environment she finds herself in.
If we asked a first responder why in the world they put themselves at risk for the people they work with, all of them, even a leader in that field, they will reply every time saying, “because they would have done the same for me”. There is a deep sense of trust and collaboration. Essentially giving them a deep sense of safety with one another.
In the situation where Tarryn feels safer being with me, out in the world, if you asked her why her mom said something to the woman who was rude to Tarryn, she would say, “because that’s what she’s like. That’s what she does.” And that’s what gives her a sense of safety, that I would be who I am, the part that she trusts to handle whatever might happen, whatever she fears might happen.
But you can’t just walk up to a stranger and say, “hey, come with me, trust me”. Their reply would never be, “sounds good. I’m in. Let’s go”. And it’s because trust is not an instruction. It’s a feeling.
And this feeling comes from our human nature regarding our needs. We have since the beginning of time been surrounded by danger. Our very existence was at risk by things around us. It was the elements, weather, it was food and did we have enough, it was lions and tigers and bears, oh my.
So, we learned to pull together and become social. We created safety by making our numbers greater together. We established safety by having more people with different skills available to meet more needs… again, creating more safety.
When we felt safe together, the result was trust and collaboration. We could feel safe falling asleep knowing someone was on watch.
We could do what we needed to do during the day knowing someone was on watch. We could be on watch knowing someone else was taking care of a need we couldn’t, because we were on watch.
All of this trust created a greater sense of safety. But we needed to trust that the person there to meet that particular need would be that person and do it.
The world is the same today. There are still things that are dangerous. There is plenty that threatens our sense of safety. From children to adults, we are worrying about how safe we are in school, in our homes, at work, within the economy, with bullies, competition, crime.
The variable of whether or not we feel safe wherever we are, will be the leader of wherever we are. The leader sets the tone.
When the leader puts the safety of those in their charge first, sacrificing their own comfort, pleasure and even safety at times… incredible things happen.
Because incredible things happen when you can trust your safety to another. You will collaborate and work together like never before.
But if the conditions aren’t right, if there is no safety amongst each other, we are forced to protect ourselves from each other. There is no trust there, and no working together. It weakens the system.
It weakens the organization, the workplace, the family, the marriage, the bond between parent and child.
If you are leading anyone in your life, and I bet you are, it’s essential to know what it is that makes the people around you feel safe. Safe enough that you can trust each other and collaborate on the goals you have together.
You have goals at work. You have goals as a family. You have goals within your relationship, and you have goals in your groups and organizations you belong to.
If the people you are surrounded with are safe, you will trust them more and you will work together better and you will accomplish your goals more efficiently. Being more productive at work, closer as a family, closer in your relationships across the board.
That’s just how it naturally works.
When we feel safer we will let down protective barriers and expose more of who we are. That’s how we see more talents, strengths, giftings, abilities. When we see those more clearly, and then combine them, it becomes an unstoppable organization, more successful business, stronger marriage, unified family.
What do we think of in a great parent?
We think of someone who provides, protects, gives opportunities, supports, teaches, disciplines when necessary and all for the goal of our kids achieving more than we did.
Great leaders are exactly the same. Whatever and whoever they are leading. They should be protecting those in their charge, providing for them, offering opportunities, teaching, disciplining when necessary… and all for the same goal. That they would achieve more than us.
Because great leaders don’t create followers. Great leaders create more leaders. And those people feel safe enough to become one to their greatest potential.
Safe enough to become. Because leadership is a choice. It is not a rank. It is not a position.
Some people we follow and listen to, because they have authority over us. Some we follow and trust and we want to work with them in whatever needs to be done because they are leaders, and they make us feel safe and like we belong and like we want to be a part of what they are doing.
You have authority figures who are not leaders, but you can also have leaders with no authority. It’s not a position or a title. It is a choice to be who they say they are, who you need them to be and how you need them to be, for your sense of safety and trust so you can work together within the relationship you have.
Leaders choose to look after the person to their left and to their right and it doesn’t matter who it is.
If you are a true leader, you will sacrifice whatever you have to for the people around you to feel safe. And they will turn around and make sacrifices because of the relationship you’ve built together, through trust and collaboration.
And if you ask the leader or the people in their charge at that point, “WHY? Why would you make such sacrifices, they would, everyone one of them say, because they would have done it for me.”
And it will never be about creating people who would sacrifice for you. It’s always about being who someone needs you to be, even if it takes sacrifice. The relationship built on safety and trust is what reciprocates the willingness back and forth.
And this is again, within a workplace, a marriage, a partnership, a club or organization, a family.
This is anywhere, where two or more have gathered and decided that they choose to take care of the person to their left, their right, or anyone within their range at all.
And I want to leave you today with truly inspiring quotes about leadership. Because everyone is a leader somewhere and can make a huge difference… and one of these quotes will be for you. Make sure you message me and tell me which one spoke to you.
- Leadership is not about titles, positions, or work hours. It’s about relationships.
- A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others.
- Good leaders must first become good servants
- Great leaders know that good teams become great teams when they trust each other enough to surrender the ME for the WE
- Great leaders are not the best at everything. They find people who are the best at different things and get them all on the same team.
And lastly, for those who don’t think they could ever be any kind of an influential leader,
- If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito.
As always, I’ve enjoyed being here with you! If you enjoy these shows and they are helpful in anyway, please keep sharing with your friends. We appreciate it so much. And if you’re able to, please click on “support the show” in the show notes. For the amount of what you’d spend on a coffee, you could support the show and what we aim to do here. Which is make sure that no one feels alone. We learn together, laugh, cry, and just offer a safe space to feel heard and seen by relating to one another and our journeys.
And until next week, when we can continue on together again, this is Tina saying good-by for now, and we’ll speak again soon.