Family members and I vacationed last week at a tropical, water park/ resort filled with predominantly American families. After indulging in some water fun, we had parked ourselves beside a smaller pool – off the beaten track – when an idyllic time turned repellent. While conversing, I noticed a couple of teens, about sixteen years old, in the pool. They started out kissing and with no objections, they kept moving to the next phase… till they decided to indulge in oral sex – yes in the pool. I was in disbelief at first – but unfortunately this was no illusion. I was outraged, insulted, disgusted and in pure shock at the audacity of these two teenagers. I alerted the lifeguard but at that moment these kids were taking a rest! So I decided to say something myself and told the girl (who was near me) “You need to stop your behavior – there are kids around” She replied “okay”. They left the pool after a few minutes and joined what looked like the girls’ parents. Ironically, the “father” was wearing a tee shirt that said “#1 DAD”. I wondered if I should alert the parents – thinking: if this was my daughter, I would want to know. I didn’t, however. Eventually they moved to a different area with the parents.
That would be the end of the story if not for the typical Marisa analysis… I agonized about whether I had done the right thing and realized I had failed. While I had temporarily halted the behavior, I had sent the wrong message verbally. I had said in effect “if kids were not around, your behavior would be acceptable.” Honestly, I chose those words because while I knew I wanted to do something, I didn’t want to “offend” or “battle” anyone – and there’s the problem.
Not everyone has the title of a leader; which by definition is “a person followed by others”. However, often we are called to be leaders just by virtue of the circumstances we find ourselves in. A couple of years ago, a fellow parishioner congratulated my daughter on the leadership qualities she displayed, namely: reaching out when she saw a need and being unafraid of going against the “norm”. In other words, even kids can be leaders. Some of us like parents, teachers, managers, pastors or governors are called to be leaders all the time by virtue of our job description.
Here are five road blocks to being an effective leader:
If I am a leader by virtue of my job description, for any stand I may take, I will have some affirmation and some condemnation. It’s when I make decisions based on my need for constant stroking and approval (as in a fan club), superseding the truth, that I become an ineffective leader.
Sometimes I may just want the easy way out. Taking a stand means work, which I may not be prepared to do. I dislike conflict and avoid it at all costs even to the detriment of my team or “followers” – making me a wimp – not a leader. Being a leader requires me to be selfless. In my case, fear of a negative rebuttal prevented me from speaking the whole truth.
I can’t believe or convince anyone else to believe in something I don’t know much about. I need to be a person of convictions. Knowing my message and learning to deliver it effectively and consistently makes me a credible leader.
- Lack of Introspection
It is easy to gravitate toward positive reinforcement. As a writer for example, I have people I don’t even know, praising my perspective and even my actions. It is therefore imperative to constantly self evaluate – analyzing my motives, mindset and message; to seek trusted counsel. A dynamic leader is open to constructive criticism and incorporating changes.