I had just received some unexpected and very difficult news regarding my career and wanted to talk with him. He’d been my mentor and the person I reported to for a number of years. He must have anticipated my call because when I said I needed to talk, he immediately said he’d make time and on that challenging day in my life, he said he would come to my office. That’s the type of leader he was. Over the years, whenever I reached out, which wasn’t often, he made himself available to talk, whether by phone or in person. It’s one of the reasons I always valued him as a leader.
I believe there are seven commitments a leader makes with those who work for them, which correspond with seven promises God makes to each of us. My list begins with availability. Over the next seven weeks we’ll take a deeper dive into each one of them.
Who do you want to work for? A leader who is always too busy to see you or speak with you. Or, the leader who says in words and their actions, “I am always available for you when you need me. No matter how busy I am, I’ll make time for you” That’s who I want to work with.
Time is the most precious commodity we have, and no one has an advantage in time. We have each been given the same 1,440 minutes each day. When you give the gift of time to someone, it says to them, “you’re important” and they feel valued.
Leaders manage a balancing act with their team. If you are too close, if you hover, they never grow. Instead, they will feel micromanaged, which translates to, “you don’t trust me.” The opposite is also not good. If you never see your staff, it says you don’t care about them enough to know what’s going on.
You need to be connected, close enough to them so they feel comfortable saying “do you have a few minutes, I need to talk”, or simply, “can we talk?”
Great leaders are a lifeline for their team. They don’t smother or micromanage, but instead build trust giving them more responsibility. As trust builds, they provide more rope on the lifeline. When there is a difficult situation, personal or professional, a key decision where the leader’s input is helpful, they need to know they can tug on that line and know the leader will be there for them.
One of the reasons we as leaders make ourselves available is because God does that for us. If pour through scripture, you’ll note He’s promised to never leave us, nor turn his back on us. He’ll be there when we’re struggling and will always make time for us. He’s ready to hear whatever is on our mind, without judgement.
Two scriptures about God’s promise to always be there for me are at the bottom. Because He does this for me, I strive to do the same for my team.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up—the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, your Savior, the Holy One of Israel. …Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Isaiah 43:2-3, 5 (TLB)