My husband works in construction. He was recently transferred to a new job site and was comparing various job foremen’s approaches to leadership.
He compared two basic styles of leadership:
Goal-oriented. It didn’t matter what it took –haranguing, pushing, nagging, coercing, even yelling (depending on the leader). Whatever the foreman had to do to get the job done. The ends justified the means as long as the goal was met.
- Process-oriented. In this method, effort was acknowledged. Sometimes it took a few tries and few different problem solving attempts to get the project moving forward but as long as there was effort being made, the hard work was acknowledged and appreciated regardless of the time it took.
Here’s some observations about these methods:
Goal-oriented does not produce better results. One would assume that it does, but the truth is it’s very discouraging and low morale does not make better workers.
The approach that the job foreman takes has a significant impact on the men under his leadership. I can see the difference in how my husband acts when he comes in the door –especially if the job foreman is hard to work with.
The foreman has the ability to swing his day from good to bad in one conversation –especially if the foreman’s expectations are unreasonable or the tools necessary to finish the job are not provided.
My husband has strong opinions about this issue, preferring the process-driven leader as it creates a significantly more pleasant working environment.
Some amount of focusing on the goal is necessary for the company to stay in business (they need to meet their goals if they’re going to retain clients), but harsh treatment does not guarantee that the employees will work harder or more efficiently.
Just because you haven’t met your goal yet doesn’t mean that you haven’t made progress. Edison said failure just showed him 1000 ways not to make a lightbulb.
It’s the non acceptance of the value of process –and the overemphasis of goals– that makes us into perfectionists and makes us afraid to try things because we might fail.
As I listened to him compare goal-oriented leaders to process oriented-leaders, the wheels in my head started turning.
What kind of leader am I?
As a mom?
As a homeschool teacher?
I realized that as much as the Lord has changed me and filled me with grace even in my child rearing, I still lean toward goal-orientation.
I get impatient when the house isn’t clean, the dishes aren’t done, and when school isn’t finished.
Particularly in school, I tend to think they need to be conquering the topic, not understanding that it’s a process.
It’s not that the end goal isn’t important. It’s that my approach can either make them feel validated by their effort or like a failure for not figuring it out already.
The last thing I want for my children is for them to feel like failures.
Just like the job foreman has the ability to make the lives of those under him miserable, I have the ability to make my children miserable by being unwilling to be happy unless my goals are made to my satisfaction regardless of the progress.
Or I can acknowledge effort and encourage them desire to do better and be better.
That’s the kind of mom I want to be.
I don’t want to be the voice that discourages my children making them feel like they’re never good enough because the expectations are just too unreasonable.
Am I refusing to acknowledge my children’s efforts because they’re not reaching my goals fast enough?
Am I refusing to value the process because I want perfection?
Have I communicated to my children via my words, actions, or attitude that I only care if they do what I want fast enough? That it doesn’t matter how hard they try only how quickly they finish?
May it not be so with me.
If I want my children to value the process and be willing to take risks and try things, I need to show that I value that process, too.
For it is in the process that we truly learn.