I have recently been reminded that because I am a leader, people will talk about me. The kids at school talk about me, parents will talk about me at dinner parties (the school is one topic of conversation that they all have in common) and my staff certainly talk about the boss. There certainly has been a lot of talk in the press and on social media lately about me (and also about many of my colleagues who are also Anglican Principals). Because of this, it has been one of the most difficult seasons in my leadership ever. I am angry with myself for a number of reasons, angry that I have been misunderstood and misrepresented and upset not to be able to say what I really think about a number of things. People make judgements, some think that they have it all figured out about who I am and what I stand for.
A leader is often the topic of conversation. If you’re new to leadership get used to this, and don’t kill yourself by trying to keep everyone happy, that they might only say nice things about you behind your back.
People are always appraising you. People will talk about the principal of the school that they are considering sending their child to. People discuss you. Your reputation is important to them. “Is he any good at his job?”, “what are the academic results of school like” ...do I trust him?, does his behaviour reflect what he says? People will talk about whether you say thank you, show appreciation, if you look worried, stressed or angry, if you’ve put on weight, bought a new shirt, or perhaps looking unwell and losing too much weight. People care about you too, and this is something I appreciate and never take for granted.
People will draw conclusions from what they observe. Show your humour, share your vulnerabilities and be real with the people who you do life with. People need to see the authentic you. But also guard yourself. If you’re dealing with a difficult situation, tell people without going into details.... give them something to talk about like, “hey, I feel for him at the moment, he needs our prayers,”, rather than “gee he’s rude. He walked straight past me and totally ignored me.”
So in the midst of all of this, who do you get your validation from? Who do you listen to? Who can you turn to when everything seems confusing, unfair, lonely or hurtful?
Psalm 121 helps me;
I look up to the mountains and hills, longing for God’s help. But then I realise that our true help and protection come only from the Lord, our Creator who made the heavens and the earth. He will guard and guide me, never letting me stumble or fall. God is my keeper; he will never forget nor ignore me. He will never slumber nor sleep; he is the Guardian-God for his people. He himself will watch over you; he’s always at your side to shelter you safely in his presence. He’s protecting you from all danger both day and night. He will keep you from every form of evil or calamity as he continually watches over you. You will be guarded by God himself. You will be safe when you leave your home and safely you will return. He will protect you now, and he’ll protect you forevermore!
Thanks Nik Shuliahin @tjump for the great pic.