Author: Edward Maggard
Date: October 18th, 2021
Conventional wisdom says, “It’s lonely at the top.” Many leaders would agree with this because they hardly have anyone, much less a group of people, with whom they can confide and feel safe. The leaders who are fortunate, and who have made it a priority, have spouses or individuals who give them the freedom to express their challenges, fears, joys, and hurts. But where does a leader find a safe community?
I remember a story that Henry Cloud, one of our speakers at the upcoming LeaderImpact Global Summit, told about a man he knew who had lost everything. He had lost his business and all of his money as well as his marriage and family. He asked a group of men together that he trusted and asked them if they would be willing to meet with him weekly. He needed encouragement and a safe place to process what had gone wrong and to be a sounding board for his plans to put his life back together..This story makes me wonder if he had a group like that for the preceding years, whether he would have gotten to that state of failure and misery.
Safe communities are characterized by several things. One is certainly confidentiality. If a member of the group reveals something about him or herself it is understood that it is not to be spoke of outside the group. We have all been the victim of gossip at one time or another, and for a leader who is responsible for people and their livelihood, this can be devastating. Another aspect of a safe community is that people are slow to speak and better at listening. In fact, the Bible says, in the book of James, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” This is good wisdom from an ancient text and wisdom that we tend to forget at times. Author Catherine Pulsifer says, “It’s hard to listen when you are talking, or when you are thinking of a response.”
When someone knows they have been heard, through someone mirroring back to them what they have said, and including how they felt, they are much more ready to hear any response of wisdom or suggestions. Finally, giving everyone in the group equal opportunity to speak is critical. If one person dominates the group with either his problems or his ideas, others may feel left out and overlooked. Admittedly, this takes practice. LeaderImpact Groups are not perfect. They are made up of people and none of us are perfect! But they can be safe communities that are life-giving for their members. If you are in such a group you are most fortunate. If you are not, how about starting one?
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