National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Suited for Leadership

Family Matters

BY Dave Durand

July 17-30, 2011 Issue | Posted 7/8/11 at 2:40 PM

 

I am a newly assigned manager, and I have never led a team. I find myself frustrated by the apathy and disorganization of the people in my group. I get irritated easily and basically just end up doing all the work myself because I know I can rely on myself and things will get done. Is it possible to overcome this feeling, or should I cash in my leadership days and return to the rank and file?


It is possible to overcome that feeling.  Many newly assigned leaders experience the same emotions. Whether or not you should remain a leader is a separate question, and I will address it secondarily.

When you were among the “rank and file,” as you stated, you were primarily responsible for yourself; therefore, you developed personal and professional skills that suited your role. It is likely that those skills took some time to master, but through determination and hard work you accomplished that task. 

In your new role as a leader, those skills will suit you well, but you must embrace the reality that leadership requires a new set of skills.

There are three initial skills that you should seek to master immediately. First, learn to put people in the right role, in the same way a great coach does when he determines the positions of his players. This takes time to learn and, like anything else, includes trial and error.

Just like a coach considers the natural talents and skills of his players, such as height, speed, coordination, accuracy and reliability, you should consider the same, only in terms appropriate to the objectives your department seeks.

The second skill is to ensure that your team is trained effectively. The training they receive must be thorough. Most organizations go skimpy on training, but they always pay for it later. The axiom that an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure applies well to training and reflects on your ability to lead.

The third skill is that of being inspirational. This is the key to the main question you asked: Should you, or should you not, remain in leadership?

Inspiring others requires being inspired. There is no doubt in my mind that God made some people more naturally suited to lead, but, oddly enough, he can call anyone to lead despite the natural gifts he has bestowed upon us. That is a paradox.

On the one hand, I would say that you need to determine, maybe with the help of a spiritual director, whether or not you are well suited for leadership.

On the other hand, I would ask you to consider that if you are not naturally suited to lead but still able, through toil and sacrifice, to meet the needs of the role, what you might learn from the experience. Many saints were reluctant leaders.

Humility, more than anything else, is required to lead effectively, especially for the long term. If you are humble, you will inspire others. Humility is the highest form of strength, and strength attracts in the polar opposite way that weakness repels.

Humility invites the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and those gifts, much more than charisma, are the power behind inspiring others.

What leader would ever fall short with wisdom, understanding, council, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord as a guide?

Catholic business consultant Dave Durand is online at DaveDurand.com.