I recently completed a two-year term as chairman of a national Armenian women’s organization, and at our annual conference last week I led a small workshop on women’s leadership development.
During the workshop, I asked participants some of the perennial questions: what is a leader and what do they do? What are the challenges they face, and what are the unique challenges of women in leadership? What are some of the misperceptions of leadership – and the solutions?
All of that will be the subject of another blog. But what struck me the most were two of the answers to the “What do leaders do?” question.
One woman said, “They lead with love.” Then another said, “And they use that gavel.”
And I couldn’t help putting them together. I told them, “You just gave me the title for my next blog entry: thank you, ladies!”
Love and a Gavel.
How do we lead with both?
1. We have to treat our colleagues, and those who report to us, with love — but we have to abide by rules as well.
2. We want to encourage creativity — but we have to have structure.
3. We need to be gracious in communicating, and accommodating when moderating a discussion — but we have to be firm, curtailing a distraction or demanding order, if someone gets out of hand.
We have to live and lead with love and a gavel. And finding that balance is one of the most important aspects of leadership.
The ‘Love and a Gavel’ idea applies to many spheres of our life: leadership in organizations, families, churches, classrooms, even our writing and creative projects.
When You Love…
Be genuine when affirming, thanking or discussing someone. People can spot a fake from miles away.
Be generous with gratitude and praise. Affirmation and recognition go a long way in bringing the best out of others.
Be integrous — don’t praise a person publicly and then backstab them in other settings. Hypocrisy is one of the most glaring weaknesses in leaders and can ruin your integrity and trust.
When You Have That Gavel…
Don’t be afraid to use it. Learn all aspects of its use, symbolically and practically, so that you can lead properly and to maximum effect.
Don’t overuse it – it will have less impact. Pick your battles carefully.
If you use it, use it definitively, authoritatively. Nothing worse than a lightly-tapped gavel.
How have ‘Love and the Gavel’ played out in your leadership experience? I’d love to hear from you.