We were all gathered for a business review session that morning. We had the Executive Director who supervised us visiting from Lagos. Suddenly, as he looked round, he asked for one of my colleagues.
The guy was absent. It turned out he lost his dad that morning and couldn’t come to work.
We concluded the meeting and this Director had to go on calls before going back to Lagos. On the way to one of the calls, he asked to be taken to the house of the colleague who lost his father.
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It was unexpected. Imagine the shock of this fellow when he saw his Director in his home to mourn with him and share some words of comfort.
I have never forgotten this incident. Leadership goes beyond meeting your numbers and getting accolades for an outstanding job. Leadership is not just about driving your people. Sometimes it’s about how you drive them, the empathy you show and the love that comes from you.
When you treat people more than mere statistics, those people will do anything for you. When your team can see that you’re absolutely committed to them, they’ll show you unalloyed loyalty too.
One of the stories that I find very inspiring about how the led can be so committed to their leader is in 2 Samuel Chapter 23. David was thirsty and expressed his desire to drink from the well of Bethlehem. Unfortunately, that well was in enemy territory.
However, 3 of his guys overheard him, went to enemy territory and fought till they got to the well and fetched some water for David.
At the risk of their lives for a bucket of water for their leader. Earlier, David had shown very inspirational leadership at Ziklag. Great leader that he was, he refused to drink that water. In an outstanding demonstration of selflessness, he poured away the water.
His men mattered more than anything.
Leaders understand that their people matter more than anything. That’s why they show empathy and demonstrate that the highest form of leadership is just being human.
“People will try to convince you that you should keep your empathy out of your career. Don’t accept this false premise.” – Tim Cook