Learning to Lead the Hardest Person You Will Ever Be in Charge of … You!
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Hundreds if not thousands of books have been written over the years about being a successful leader. Titles like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, The Vision Driven Leader, or The Dichotomy of Leadership are just a few of the books that have driven people to seek positive change in the workplace and in their personal lives.
But what if being a successful leader is less about being innovative and seeking high levels of productivity but more about how to connect with people and influence them for good?
In his latest book, Help! I Work with People, author/pastor Chad Veach encourages readers to recognize the power of being a people person and to create a culture of sharing a vision rather than following one.
I recently spoke to Veach about what is lacking in modern leadership today, the importance of leading yourself, and why it is important to build unproductivity into your schedule.
What was the catalyst or inspiration for writing Help! I Work with People?
I think the first catalyst is people are my favorite part of life. My wife always kind of makes fun of me that I always need people around and just love being around people. I love people. I’ve been very inspired as a young leader reading Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. I have tried to use his methods, the Enneagram, and all of these different tools to be able to really understand people and lead people. Craig Groeschel, who I think is one of the best leaders in America, said to me last summer, ‘You need to start a leadership podcast and write a leadership book.’ And I said, well, I don't know about that. I don't know if I'm ready. He said, ‘No, you're the perfect age and the perfect person for it.’ So, I came home, and I thought, if I'm going to write a leadership book, what would be my subject? Well, it would have to be on my favorite subject and that's people. I feel like if people can kind of erase that thought of, if people weren't involved, my job or my life would be so easy. People actually are the best part of life. We have to get through some of our wounds, our dysfunctions, our defense mechanisms, and get to a healthy place so we can create healthy relationships.
You have been quoted as saying that this is the most excited you have ever been about a book project. Why do you say that?
I think because leadership in general is my favorite subject. It’s the thing I love to talk about the most. My favorite subject is coupling leadership and its people, but I also feel like it's just a new world. I've written three books on faith to a Christian audience. This is my first book that's written to just a leadership audience. I feel like it broadens the reach when it's not just a religious book. I've been so inspired for two decades, consuming everything that John Maxwell puts out. So, I really look to him as a fore runner and as a role model for me. That's why I think it's the most excited that I've ever been about a book project because I feel like the opportunity to impact and influence people is greater than ever before.
From your perspective, what is lacking in modern leadership today?
I feel like we all need improvement. My leadership needs improvement. And I love the saying, “When the leader gets better, everyone gets better.” I'm not discouraged by any means of what I see in leadership. I think we all are evolving and we're all getting to a place of health and a place of security. There is no greater privilege than being under great leaders. It is an honor. It's like when the Queen of Sheba comes and looks at Solomon and everything that he has and has accomplished. And she says to him, ‘They didn't tell me the half of how good you are. How happy must your people be?’ She can just tell by the spirit, the excellence and the presentation. The people under your leadership have to be so happy.
You can always tell when someone's under a great leader because they're very fulfilled. They're very excited. When you're under poor leadership, like a Saul, who's jealous, disobedient, and insecure, you can't win. There's no winning. I feel like what needs to be seen in leadership is timeless truth, our character, our sincerity, our integrity, and our kindness. When the Bible says in , ‘What is desired in a man is loving kindness.’ I always think that's not just what is desired in a man or a husband. That is what is desired in our leaders. What is desired in our leaders is loving kindness. That's going to be the hurdle that we're always going to be challenged with and having to jump over. It’s about how to first call for yourself.
With that said, why is leading yourself the hardest thing that a leader will ever do?
Because I think it's always easier to say something than it is to do something. There's always a gap between who I am and who I want to be. Paul says it this way in , ‘The things I want to do, I do not do. And the things I hate to do, those are the things that I do.’ And that's just the problem with humanity. All of us are centered. We're born into sin. We're born into failure. None of us are perfect. There is a dark side to every leader. Every leader has insane strengths and incredible weaknesses. It’s just going to be a part of the journey of all of us. I think that's why people love the Enneagram so much is because it really does expose someone's strengths and their natural gifts. And just a heads up with this personality, there are some weaknesses. What is our job?
Our job is to improve and to hone in on our craft and our natural gift mix. Your weaknesses are no laughing matter. The people in our offices and the people in our homes are not laughing with you about your weaknesses. They're saying, ‘You know what? I would give anything for you to focus on your weaknesses and get some help, some strength, some therapy, some attention, and maybe some Gospel over your weaknesses. I think the hardest part of leadership is leading ourselves.
You mentioned earlier in our conversation that you are a people person. In your book, you write that there is power in being a people person. Why is there so much power in that?
People will always remember the way you make them feel. (It’s) what they remember the most. It's not about what you say. It's more about who you are. You can have the right words with a wrong heart, and it really leaves someone empty. And so, I think if God's greatest passion in life is in His people, it should be our greatest passion. It's funny. Some people just want to love God and hate people. And the Bible actually says, ‘If you hate your brother, you haven't seen God.’ (With) a clear picture of Jesus, the Gospel changes our heart for humanity. We cannot love God and hate our brother. And so, becoming a people person is really just becoming a Gospel person, becoming a Jesus person. You receive the love of God. And the love of God has overwhelmed your heart. The fear of loving others leaves because perfect love casts out fear.
You write in your book that a key to success and productivity is to actually invest in time-off and to build unproductivity into your schedule. Contradictory to current societal norms. From your perspective, why is this so important?
One of the sayings that we try and use here with our team is ‘You ain't ready if you ain't rested.’ And what we're trying to say is, hey, if you really want to be a blessing, drink some water and get a good night's rest. This is because you're just no good for anybody if you don't have the rest that you need in your soul. I think it's looking at how rest comes to us. Rest comes physically, but it also comes spiritually. The Word of God is presence, prayer, meditation on His promises. And it also comes emotionally. How do you get emotional rest? I think that's why you have to unplug. I think that's why you need to have some hobbies in your life. You need to have some great community. You’ve got to check the boxes. You see someone in life that's getting a good six to eight hours of sleep every night, but they're still exhausted. Well, I would say that's probably a soul rest is what they need to accomplish in their life.
In Help! I Work with People, you really stress that there is great value as a leader in empowering your team. You even have a sub-section called “Everyone is a Genius”. Why is this so important in being a successful leader?
The greatest leader in the history of the world is Jesus. What does he do while he's here on earth? He takes 70 guys and He gives them power. Most of the leadership dilemma in great organizations around the world is who has authority, who can make decisions, who can actually do something? And I think that empowerment does not start with the greatness of others. Empowerment starts with me. It starts with my belief that other people are competent and capable. Other people can accomplish great things. And if I believe that about humanity, I believe that about others. I believe other people have a genius that I'm quick to empower. But if I don't believe in others, which goes back to having a small soul, a small mindset as well, that if I don't believe in others, I'll never empower them. Jesus was the greatest because He goes, ‘Hey guys, I'm actually going to go away and you're going to do greater things than me.’ And they're looking at it like, ‘Hey, how can we do greater things than you?’ It was the belief in the power. He was challenging them to do something great.
What can a person do today to start becoming a better leader?
I think the first thing you can do is make the decision to add value to people. I can't emphasize that enough. The first decision that we need to make as people, as leaders, is to figure out how can I add value to others today? And just asking that question makes me think, is there a text I need to send? Is there a phone call I need to make? Are there flowers that I need to send? Is there a gift card I need to put in somebody's email inbox today? How do I add value to others? The problem for most people is they're looking for others to add value to them. Nobody writes me to say thank you. Nobody calls me. Nobody is reaching out to me. But the reality is that all of life first starts with us. If I want friends, I first need to be a friend. If want to be blessed I need to go out and look for ways to be a blessing. So, I'd say the greatest start is to start with the idea, how do I add value to others?
After people have read Help! I Work with People, as an author what would you like to see your readers take away from the experience? What is your greatest hope for the book?
My greatest hope for the book is that people would be awakened. I would love to see the reader be awakened to the greatness that lies within others, that they would be infused with a belief of humanity and that as they read this book, they would get excited. I remember when I read How to Win Friends and Influence People, I wanted to go out and write, thank you cards. I wanted to memorize people's names. I wanted to go out and make people feel like champions. And I hope in the same way that my life was impacted reading that book, that people will feel so inspired to love their neighbors, their co-workers, their brothers and sisters, their friends, and community members that they would just fall in love with people.
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