I wasn’t certain what to expect when I walked into the room with my department director, Bob. I didn’t really know him as I’d only been on the job a few weeks as a recruiter, fresh out of college. We were meeting Greg and Shirley, who were leaders of a division I was now recruiting for. Introductions were brief and as soon as they were done, Greg in a rather loud booming voice started in. “When the h@#$l are we going to get some staff? Your people haven’t done a d*&!@ thing for us lately. I can’t operate this place if we don’t get positions filled. It’s your job and this recruiter hasn’t done s#$% for us yet.”  Bob responded in a soft voice, “Now Greg, calm down, let’s talk about this.” Greg talked, but it was a one-sided conversation for 30-45 minutes. When the meeting was over, and we sheepishly walked out of the room, I knew I was no longer in college. It was the real world. Then two thoughts came to mind, 1) working with Greg and Shirley was going to be a challenge, and 2) Bob was so passive I felt unprotected and wondered if I was ever in trouble, would he be there for me.

I will protect you is the second of the seven promises of a leader. All of us want to feel safe, and the safety of your team should be a top priority for a leader. It makes good business sense too as they’ll be more productive when they feel safe.

We especially owe them protection from the following.

  1. Hostile work environment – The term is used frequently today, but it’s not a new issue. We must protect our team from staff who pick on or harass others, verbally, physically or sexually. Sadly, it makes them feel stronger than they are. Make sure your team knows you don’t condone it, and they should never be afraid to tell you if it’s happening to them so that you can act.
  2. Unjust criticism. – Your team will make mistakes, and there will be justifiable criticism. Don’t let others pile on your team in an unjust way. Too often it’s allowed because it takes the heat off someone or another department. I had a friend who told me of a time he presented to senior leadership. In advance, he reviewed everything with the person he reported to, and she was in total agreement with the material being presented and decisions he’d made. He felt great, until the questions and criticism came at the meeting. He found out he was all alone. Instead of stepping in to help and support, she remained silent, protecting herself.
  3. Bullying –Bullies exist at all levels within an organization, even in the C-suite. Remember, a bully never confronts directly and attack with half-truths and gossip. They maintain power when no one confronts them or when others jump to conclusions with only partial information. If a bully comes after someone on your team, push back and remember the source. Make sure to get the full picture on your own and give the person a chance to share their side of what happened.

Why do we make this commitment? Because God does it for us. He promised to be our protector every day of our lives.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

The Lord is good; he protects his people in times of trouble; he takes care of those who turn to him. Nahum 1:7 (GNT)

And in return, we protect those in our care, those who we serve as leaders.

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