Don't you just love getting gifts? I love the excitement and anticipation of opening the package to reveal the contents inside. I remember one particular Christmas that my parents got me the coveted Fisher-Price 3-in-1 tournament table. That's right...pool, ping-pong, and "air" hockey all neatly packaged in one table. We wore that thing out! Tempers ran hot when someone lost to their little sister and put their foot through the wall...moving on.
As much as I love receiving gifts; I love giving gifts exponentially more. I get a surge of adrenaline leading up to the moment that someone opens a gift that I was able to give. It's exciting, and hopefully, they will love it. Giving gifts communicates attentiveness and a willingness to serve.
Leaders have the ability to give gifts everyday by the way they lead others. These seven gifts don't cost any money, but they will require some thought and attention to detail. With a little practice and awareness, we can begin to bless others on a regular basis. Here's my list of seven gifts leaders can give to others.
1 - Emotional Stability
The gift of emotional stability is the gift that is given over time. Through the best of times and the worst of times, the ability of the leader to show emotional stability will prove to be a valuable gift to everyone around them.
I first found out about the importance of this gift when I was at home. As the husband, and man of the house, it is my responsibility to set the tone for how interactions and conflicts are handled within the home. Each day is an opportunity to produce a healthy climate or toxic climate. I don't know about you, but I want my home to be a refuge and not another battlefield.
As a ministry leader, wouldn't you want the time that you spend in the office to be refreshing and restoring so that everyone is refueled for the next ministry initiative? We contribute to this positive environment when we bring emotional stability to the table. Emotional stability isn't always seen, but make no mistake...it is felt. It's palpable and when we are seen as stable; trust is built.
2 - A Clear Path
Leaders move people. As the ancient Afghan proverb states, "If you're leading, but nobody's following; you're just taking a walk." As a long time follower, I can tell you that it is a lot more enjoyable to follow when you know where you're going.
Jesus plainly called the men that would be his disciples to this simple mission: "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." (Matthew 4:19)
It is a gift when a leader can clearly define the direction and chart the course for others to follow.
3 - Responsibility + Authority
Okay, so, this looks like two; but it's really a package deal (like Mike-and-Ike candy). Great leaders know that when responsibility is linked to authority it is a real gift to be given. When someone on the team not only has a job to do, but is also armed with the authority to make decisions they can soar! When responsibility is given without authority to make any decisions; that's called "dumping"...not a gift. Furthermore, it's poor leadership and comes across tyrannical if those that we're leading feel that they have to come to us for every decision that is made.
If, as a leader, you honestly believe that you have talented, passionate people on your team, give them this gift and get out of the way!
4 - Accountability
Yeah, I know that I just said, "get out of the way", but hopefully we know that it doesn't mean a leader should be completely detached from the process. The gift of accountability comes with the inherent tension of giving helpful input, receiving accurate reporting, while not stealing back the authority to make decisions. Nobody likes to be micro-managed. However, healthy boundaries can be maintained and pitfalls can be avoided when the gift of accountability is appropriately given.
5 - Trust
Whenever there is a gap between performance and expectation it is up to the leader to decide what goes in that gap. In other words, how a leader responds when someone doesn't seem to be meeting expectations will go a long way in creating the culture of the team. Most of the time, it comes down to a choice of "trust" or "doubt".
Here's how this works, a co-worker shows up late to the meeting. The leader can decide to trust that the individual had a good reason for being late. On the flip-side, the leader can decide to cast doubt on the individual. Doubting their dedication. Doubting their respect. Doubting their work ethic. Casting doubt is toxic and it's contagious in the life of a team or organization. Trust is a gift, that is also contagious. It leaves room for possibility and explanation and restoration. Giving trust doesn't make a leader a doormat. Trust is given along with accountability and both produce a healthy culture.
6 - Gratitude
I'm convinced that we aren't truly aware of how powerful gratitude is until it's absent. Think about the last time you went out of your way to do something for someone else and they couldn't even muster a "thank you". Again, gratitude is a palpable, contagious asset to any effective culture.
Giving the gift of gratitude can be done simply through a hand-written note or a timely text message. It reminds others that you, their leader, notice the effort that they're putting into their work. One of the by-products of giving gratitude is the trust that others will in turn give to the leader.
7 - Support
Of course, we save the best gift for last. Leaders are leading at their best when they give the gift of support for those they are leading. When an outside agent presents a problem, we ,the leader, first takes the problem upon ourselves. This is the most important way support is given.
Perhaps there is something that we could have done better or communicated more clearly to the team to avoid this problem. There's nothing wrong with apologizing and asking for an opportunity to make things right.
Rather than pass down a judgement or reprimand to others on the team, present the problem to them as it was presented to you. Ask for feedback and possible solutions. Building buy-in and not repeating mistakes is ultimately a win for the team. Giving the gift of support facilitates growth.
There you have it. My list of gifts that a leader can give to others. Which one did I leave out? Which one did you agree, or disagree, with?
Latch on to one of these gifts this week and begin to give generously!