When you think about what makes for a good leader, does the word ‘safety’ come to mind?
It didn’t for me until I watched this TED talk by Simon Sinek. I often thought of words like motivational, inspirational, and results-oriented — but not ‘safe’. I have to admit, Simon’s thoughts were very insightful to me.
Ultimately, I agree with Simon’s assertion that people perform at a higher level for leaders who create an environment of safety, and I want to be this kind of leader. I haven’t got it completely figured it out yet but, based on recent feedback, I am moving in the right direction.
7 Ways to Create a Safe Culture for Your Ministry
How do create a safe environment for the people you lead? Here are seven lessons I’ve learned along the way:
- Provide a clear WHY. When it comes to achieving goals and results, nothing is more motivational to people than understanding why it matters in the bigger picture of making a difference in the world. Growth and profitability are not, by themselves, highly motivating to most people.
- Create a safe place for venting. There is often dissonance between how we say things should be and how they really are. This is a normal consequence of the gap between our vision and our current reality. Let people ask you about it, and don’t be defensive. Listen, understand, and, if you have an answer for it, give it to them respectfully. If you don’t, admit it ... it’s OK!
- Believe in people. Our hiring process at Church Community Builder is rigorous and designed to help us find the right people for our organization. So, once people make it through that process, I must believe in them and trust that they can do the job. That means no micromanaging!
- Clearly define roles and expectations. Nothing is more frustrating (and scary) than a lack of clarity about what you expect from someone and how you measure good performance.
- Follow through. Few things erode trust and safety faster than not doing what you said you would do. Be sure you regularly ask people how you’re doing in this area.
- Embrace failure. I don’t even like that word, but it drives home a point. You have to let people fail if you want them to learn. Failure is without a doubt the best teacher I’ve ever met.
- Always keep learning. Set aside at least a half day every week to learn and grow personally. This shows people that you constantly try to be better at what you do. It demonstrates humility and sets a great example.
I’ve seen leaders who get results because they have a title and the authority to lord over people and scare the crap out of them. I’ve worked for guys like that. I don’t want to be that guy. I want to be the kind of leader who, like Jesus, seeks to serve and resource people as we move together on a journey towards something bigger and more meaningful than ourselves. The really cool thing about that kind of leadership is that you are likely to get positive results you didn’t even dream were possible!
Do your people see you as a ‘safe’ leader? How have you created this environment?