Here’s part six of chapter three of my book, A Day of Hope.
DEFEND YOUR STRENGTHS
There are two types of people who lead A Day of Hope: those who think of lots of ideas and those who implement ideas. As a leader of A Day of Hope, you are more than likely in the first category. I know I am in the first category as someone who generates lots of ideas—so many that I have trouble implementing them all. I’m lucky if I implement 25 percent of the ideas that I generate.
If, like me, you are a person who generates lots of ideas, one of the last things you need is more people who generate ideas. What you need are people to implement them, people who can make things happen and who can administrate well.
This is very important because my experience in this area caused me to become extremely unproductive when I first started working with people. People will hear about what you’re doing and want to suggest ideas to help. Often when I tell someone about the work of A Day of Hope, they’ll say it’s a great service that we offer to the community. Then they’ll say, “You know what you should do . . ?” or “Have you ever talked to . . ?” or “Have you called this person?” or “Have you ever contacted Oprah?” They all have great ideas, but as the leader there’s no way you can chase down all the ideas and still focus on doing what you do best.
Remember, your job as the leader is to focus on doing what you do best and to find others to do the rest. When people keep putting ideas on you, it’s impossible to do what you do best. I learned a long time ago not to let other people set my agenda and fill my calendar.
Here’s some effective ways to respond to people who want to give you ideas. “Yes, that’s a great idea! How can I support you to make it happen?” or “Yes, we do need to do that. Can you help us?” or “I’m really busy right now, so I can’t do it. Would you like to do it?” Surprisingly, some will actually say in response, “Yes, I’ll give it a try,” and they will take some type of action to see that work is done. If the person declines to take initiative on the idea they had, then it probably wasn’t that good of an idea to begin with. If they really thought it was a good idea and wanted to help support you, then they would take the initiative to make it happen.
As you can see, this is just one example of how you’ll have to defend your strengths as the leader of A day of Hope. There will be many other instances where you will have to do the same. To effectively lead from a position of focusing on your strengths, you’re going to have to keep fighting to focus on them and to defend them.
Remember that if you leave your calendar and agenda up to others, they will determine it for you.