Don’t Invade. Invite.
Great leaders do not invade. They invite.
They do not invade people’s boundaries to pull them along on the journey. They invite them to join them instead. When we are willing to show others the respect they deserve, it completely alters our approach.
Invasion tears people down.
You only have to watch three and four year-olds play to understand how all of us tend to interact with one another if we are not careful. Invasion is the name of the game. “Mine!” a four year-old screams as he forcefully snatches a toy out of the hands of another child.
It is the same dynamic when countries go to war. The Senkaku Islands (or Diaoyu Islands) are a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. They are controlled by Japan. However, China claims that they are China’s. If you follow the news, you will know that these islands are a source of contention between the two great nations. And while China has not attempted to invade the Senkaku Islands, that’s exactly what countries often do to one another to get what they want.
That’s what adults do too. And that’s what we as leaders tend to do as well, if we don’t mature our thinking and quiet our spirit. We set our sights on a goal. Then we bulldoze our way into people’s lives and push and tug. All we see is that toy, or those islands. All we see is our goal. The person in between us and our goal begins to matter less and less. They are just an obstacle standing in our way. Mature leaders do not childishly give in to bludgeoning relationships for the sake of getting their own way.
Sure, there will occasionally be situations where a relationship needs to be pushed, or even sacrificed, in order to do the right thing. But really, this is the exception, not the rule. In most cases, when conflict occurs, relationships are bruised unnecessarily.
When we are successful in getting our own way, even at the risk of invading other people’s boundaries, we think we’ve won. But in reality, we have lost. We’ve lost people’s trust and respect. We’ve lost their loyalty and creativity. And worse, when we invade and push ourselves on others, they lose something too. They lose that sparkle in their eyes and that hope in their spirit. And that is a sad day—when God gives us the privilege to lift people up—but we tear them down instead.
Invitation builds people up.
I have to remind myself of this often. I like things done a certain way. We all do. Specifically, I am a stickler for how leadership should be practiced, how those in the organization I lead should treat others. But it doesn’t stop there. I have preferences on how many books people should read, on how they should take notes, on how they should organize their time. You name it. If you follow my blog you know, I am very intentional and methodical. And if I am not careful, I can start pushing “my way” onto others.
I never want to do that. Instead what I want to do (and many times I fail), is to demonstrate to people what I believe to be the right way. Then I ask them to consider adopting it.
By inviting people—to join the mission, support the vision, consider certain growth habits—we affirm our love and high regard for them because we do not invade their personal boundaries and freedom to think and choose for themselves. When we choose this approach with people, we communicate that we respect them and value them. When we invite them (rather than invade), we honor their spirit. We honor their dignity.
That’s what I would want from others. I think all of us would.
Actionable step: If you push yourself on others, stop. There is a more effective approach that preserves people’s dignity. Invite them to join you and to align with you…as your partner. Because they are. You are going places together.
About Me: I exercise 15 minutes at home each morning. I do a mix of jumping, push ups, sit ups, pull ups, and other exercises.
What I Am Reading Now: I am still reading The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and The Bible in Nazi Germany by Susannah Heschel. As I mentioned in the last blog, the general thesis of the book is this: The author, Dr. Heschel, professor of Jewish Studies at Darmouth College, wrote this scholarly work describing an historical topic I have not previously been exposed to. In the 1930’s, a pro-Nazi movement emerged in Germany to take Judaism out of Christianity. This idea was supported by a sizable number of theologians, pastors, and bishops. They argued that Jesus was not Jewish. He was instead an Aryan, born in a multi-ethnic town of Galilee, and his life purpose was to oppose Judaism. And was killed because of it. So they saw Hitler as a fulfillment of the original intent of Jesus (to oppose Jews). They even went as far as rewriting the New Testament, removing all reference to Jewish tradition.
For Further Reading: