Over the last few weeks I have sensed a battle weariness in leaders that I have come into contact with. It has stirred a huge compassion in me. A lot of focus has been on making sure your employees are okay and it is super important, but who is looking out for the leader's who have had to carry not only their worries but the concern of their people too. It is easy to get grumpy about those who lead us when things are feeling hard, to demand care and concern from them, but who is looking out for the leaders well being?
I recently read up about cities of refuge. These were set up for the newly formed Hebrew nation to ensure if someone made a serious mistake, like killing someone by accident, that they had a place to go that would give them a chance to plead their case before the “relly's” took their revenge. There were three cities on either side of the Jordan.
This made me think about the world we live in and how brutal we are when leaders make mistakes. Even perceived mistakes are pulled through social media, nowadays you only have to appear to make a mistake before you are hauled over the coals. Now don’t hear what I am not saying, I am all for accountability, but we first have to understand what accountability is all about.
Accountability has become a form of punishment in some quarters. A way to keep people in line. It works because shame is a powerful tool to keep people in check, but it breaks down people and erodes the team and eventually the company. Very much a tool in the command and control type of leadership which we know does not inspire trust and growth.
But if a leader is someone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential, then accountability is an act of courage and love. Yes, I said love and yes I meant to use it in the workplace context. As in, I love you enough to bring to your attention the behaviours that hurt you and/or hurt your team. I love you enough not to leave you the same but to lead you into that potential I see in you more than I love the comfort of not saying anything.
Leaders have just gone through the most harrowing three years possibly of their lives and I have noticed over the last few months a deep weariness in some of the leaders I have had conversations with. These men and women are battle weary. Some have felt beaten up, and some have beaten themselves up for mistakes they made in the moment. And yeah sure we have seen some really bad examples of leadership, but for most people, it was a knee jerk reaction to what was going on and they did things that were opposite to their values out of the fear at the moment. So much attention has gone and rightly so to get people to pay attention to their staff, making sure they are okay, checking in with them, but what about our leaders, who are taking care of them? Who is making sure they are okay? So where do leaders go to recover, heal or just get encouragement? This has been a burning question for me lately.
A few weeks ago, I landed up meeting a few leaders in a row. By the end of that time, my heart was bursting with compassion. They are still doing amazing things, I bet their people would say they are crushing it, but they each shared with me how deeply exhausted and soul-weary they were and I realised what a privileged moment it was that they were letting me in and so grateful for the opportunity to pour encouragement into them.
So where can leaders go to recover, be refreshed, be encouraged, just BE? If you know a leader, reach out to them and encourage them, tell them that you appreciate the work they do and thank them for the sacrifices they have made, there will be many. Take some time to focus on what they are doing right and tell them.
Leaders, reach out and find your city of refuge:
It could be your small group of friends, take the time to see them.
It could be your mentor, book in that coffee.
It could be a coach, book that appointment.
Whatever it is for you, reach out even if you feel like you are okay, just reach out and get filled up. You don’t have to be strong all the time.
If you don’t have anyone, reach out, and I’ll buy you a coffee.