United We Stand – Divided We Fall
There have been so many incidents recently in our country that are heartbreaking and disturbing. It is so easy to go on with our lives and not get involved with what we perceive is not directly in our path. True leaders, however, cannot ignore the events transpiring around them. True leaders speak on behalf of what is right; they are never silent in times of crisis and work with those they lead to focus on a common purpose to address the crisis.
I was born as a white American female. I have never been a black American and I don’t know what it feels like to be treated as one. I have been blessed to have many African-American friends and co-workers from whom I have learned much. On a personal level, I know that God is very specific about how we should live, with our top priorities being to love God and love one another. That command crosses every barrier that man constructs. It applies to every nationality, race, gender and lifestyle. In times of crisis, leaders must focus on unifying the people for good.
Whether we are talking about leading our country or leading an organization, it is critical to focus on what is important. Leaders listen to those they lead and work with the people to create vision and purpose. How can you determine what is important to your organization? I remember when opening a new school, we listed broad topics on chart paper and put them on the walls around the room. The topics were things like student learning, student behavior, parental involvement, homework, grading, school climate, etc. We then asked all of the teachers and staff to rotate to each piece of paper in small groups and brainstorm and list what they believed about the topic on the chart. Later that day we combined similar statements and made new charts to post around the room with the belief statements on them. The following day, we gave each staff member ten colored dot stickers. They were to walk to each chart and place a dot by the statements they most agreed with and believed. Each person had to place all of his or her stickers on the chart papers. By using this process, we were able to identify what we mutually agreed upon and to use those items to drive our vision and goals for our school. We found the beliefs we had in common and used those beliefs to drive the vision for our school.
I am prayerful that whoever takes over the leadership of our country in the fall will implement leadership qualities that bring us together instead of driving us apart. I have been encouraged by individual postings on social media showing people of different races coming together in unity. It is time for us to remember what we have in common and to work together for a better city, state and nation. I believe that we all want to be able to feel safe, we all love and want the best for our families and we desire to make enough money to pay the bills. We have to learn to work together for the things we believe. It is time for each of us to be a leader. We need to listen to one another, determine our common values and work together for good.
One of my favorite movie clips comes from the Mighty Ducks. The hockey team is comprised of individuals all wanting to be the star of the team. During a practice session, the coach ties them together and tells them to move. They instantly fall because they are each moving in different directions with no leadership emerging. They quickly learn that the only way to succeed as a team is to work together.
Successful organizations work together for a common goal. The people in those organizations listen to one another and even though at times disagree, are capable of coming together for a common purpose. They care about and for one another similarly to a family. It is time for leaders to lead. It is time for leaders to listen. It is time for leaders to act. Wherever you find yourself, you can and are a leader. I encourage you to appreciate all of those around you, to love one another. You can make a difference in your world!