Ok, some people are…
…like the able-bodied people who take up handicap parking stalls when my wife is shopping with our special needs boy;
…like any football fan that roots for a team other than my beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers;
…like the people who don’t get the movie The Princess Bride.
I’m digressing here. This is not a post about how we grow by learning to love these observably unlovable examples of humanity. This is a post about the people you lead. I think how we view the people we lead is a reflection of how we view ourselves.
People are not tools we use to reach a goal; people are the goal. TWEET
A few years ago I found myself with a group of guys in one of those stand-around-in-one-of-our-cold-garages-in-the-middle-of-winter-with-a-beer-and-talk-about-our-marriages type of conversations.
This noble conversation involved talking about how challenging we all found it to put our wives first. Brian the Brave spoke up. He said that he thought we were all full of it because he, and everyone he knew (if they were honest), always looked to what they personally would get out of the relationship before deciding how they would invest in the relationship. He said he did nice things for his wife because she did nice things for him. I remember liking his brutal honesty more than his philosophy.
It’s not so different in business, is it?
We call the department in charge of the well-being of company workers the Human RESOURCES department. People are resources like the computers on which we type emails and the company cars we drive.
When businesses expand, they have formulas to determine the trigger points of expansion and exactly how many resources need to be procured. For instance, a division of a company may know in advance when their revenues reach X amount, they will need to hire a new person and they will have fixed costs associated with that process (new computer, company car, etc.).
It’s pretty easy to see how we have learned to think of people as a resource, isn’t it?
It’s just how we think. It’s engrained in us.
We even think of ourselves this way, don’t we?
If I do this, then that will happen.
- play this role or that role
- do this task or that task
- take this job or that job
- act this way or that way
If I just do any or all of these things, I believe that I will find what I was made to do.
As leaders, we tend to think of ourselves this way because it is endemic to who we are. Many people live this way and it is how we tend to treat the people we lead. It is in the air we breathe.
However, we are not tools.
We are not role players. We are not even resources, though we feel important being thought of like this.
We are reflectors.
We are image-bearers of God.
In the late 90’s, through a series of circumstances, I played golf with Geoff Moore and his band prior to one of his concerts. I really like Geoff Moore and his music so this was a huge deal for me. These guys were a ton of fun and they made me feel comfortable by teasing me about the “Cushmobile” transportation to the golf course, a Chrysler New Yorker, and my “interesting” golf swing.
After I let them trounce me (to be a good host, of course), I remember my extra vigilance when driving the Cushmobile back to the arena so we would arrive with vocal chords intact and all musical fingers fully functioning. These guys were God’s voice that night for people to know Him more deeply through their music! They were God’s image-bearers. They were His people.
I think we struggle with seeing those we lead in business as resources because we see ourselves the same way. We think we are here to play a role and earn applause. We think we are here to be a resource for others, or even God, and get money, recognition or good feelings in return.
But if you can begin to see yourself as so wondrously made you already reflect God’s glory by just existing, I’m willing to bet you’ll start to see those you lead — and yes even the tools who take up handicap parking spaces – differently.
Once we see ourselves and others differently, we can see that people aren’t tools we use to reach a goal; they are the goal.