As we sat around the dinner table, my 17-year-old son started shovelling food down his throat. The sight was almost as unpleasant as the noise he was creating!
Back in the early 1990’s, whilst working in the United Kingdom, I was involved with a product called the Personal Communication Computer (or the P.C.C. for short). It consisted of a desktop computer, with a camera, tailored hardware and software and a phone connected to an ISDN line. Each P.C.C. would connect with another, allowing the participants to see and talk to each other in a small real-time video window, whilst annotating a whiteboard as they spoke. The P.C.C. evolved into what we now know today as Skype.
At the time I asked my boss, John, if I could work out of our training office, which was only 10 kms from my home, as opposed to my daily commute of 35kms into London to our headquarters. I argued that we could use the P.C.C. and make it a collaboration tool to help me deliver my work remotely. He declined my request. I asked again, only to receive the same answer.
When I pushed him, John replied, “Elias, I need you in the office, because all of the business is either conducted over a cup of coffee or around the water cooler!”
What he was telling me is that leadership is all about relationships. Technology is great, but you have to learn how to supplement technology with relational skills.
The last two years has pushed us down a technology rabbit hole. The use of Zoom, Teams and Google Hangouts has changed the way that we have been interacting with each other. That has been forced out of a necessity, borne for our own safety as we battled to understand the devastating effects of a virus that was wreaking havoc globally.
I recently spoke to the Deputy Head of a Junior School whilst attending a birthday party. As we sat out on the deck, enjoying the salt air and hearing the waves crash at Milford beach only a few metres away, I asked her, “How did you cope with the use of technology, especially amongst the new entrants?”
What she described to me took my breath away. Teachers in her school were forced to adapt to the new technology in isolation. In addition to the students that they had to engage and educate, their parents were also looking in on each session, mounting the pressure on already stressed teachers.
As I reflected back to John’s comments, I reminded her that we should not rely on technology to engage by itself, but we should take the time to invest in our key staff through more traditional methods. After all, I argued, we were created for community, not isolation.
What the Bible Says About the Importance of Community?
There is a passage in the Book of Hebrews that highlight the importance of church community. We are encouraged to practice not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together. The writer of Chapter 10, verses 24 and 25 wrote, “24And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
As a leader, here are three questions that you should consider asking the next time you have your One-on-One over a coffee to help you build relationships with your key staff members:
1 “How are you doing?”
If possible, make these a coffee catch up and keep them social. After all, John insisted that business is conducted over a cup of coffee, so why not indulge in your favourite Almond, Oat or Soy latte to make the experience more decadent.
We are urged to encourage each other daily. Another passage in the Book of Hebrews states, “13But encourage one another every day, as long as it is still called “today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
2 “Is there anything that you want to talk about?”
Sometimes people just need assurance that it’s OK to bring up tough subjects or topics that go a little deeper. This can help the conversation move from superficial subjects to something a little more meaningful if the other person wants. If they aren’t interested in talking about anything, don’t pry. Instead, let them know you’re willing to listen if they ever do want to talk.
We are encouraged to talk to God. In fact, not just talk to Him, but to share our worst fears and anxieties. In 1 Peter, Chapter 5, verse 7, we are told to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
3 “What can we do to help?”
Offer them access to appropriate counselling.
Mental health issues have dramatically increased recently. According to a report published by the Canterbury District Health Board, “Most people know someone who experiences mental distress (77 percent).” Create a safe haven for your staff to open up to you over that cup of coffee.
Galatians, Chapter 6, verse 2 offers us instruction for helping others. “2Carry each other’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.” This is Good News: No one does anything alone. You can help friends and family get through life’s big and small obstacles, and they will do the same for you.
And if you’re going to invest in that Oat latte, you might as well splurge and pick up a slice of carrot cake at the same time. It would be criminal not to!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elias Kanaris helps leaders lead. He is a thought leader in the area of resilience, leadership and building trust. Elias is an author and speaker. He has written three books on leadership, resilience and finances, and has spoken in 13 countries, on four continents.
Elias is the CEO of the Insight and Strategy Group and has served as President of the Global Speakers Federation (2018-2019) and was the President of the National Speakers Association of New Zealand (2015-2017). He is also a Founding Partner of Maxwell Leadership® – the largest and fastest-growing leadership training organisation in the world – where he is a certified Coach, Trainer and Speaker in the Maxwell Methodology®.
LEVERAGING GOD: GIVING YOU STRENGTH TO HELP YOU ACHIEVE
What would you do if you found yourself $2,000,000 in debt, with all your lines of credit maxed out? Would you call it quits? Would you call in the liquidators and declare bankruptcy? Would you rush around and see who you can persuade to loan you some money – any money? Family? Friends? Or would you leverage God?
What??! Don’t be sacrilegious, Elias. What you are saying is blasphemous. You can’t manipulate God! I’m not saying that I tried to manipulate God. I’m just saying that I was leveraging God. There’s a subtle and important distinction…
By leaning into God and allowing myself to submit to His will and His word, I was able to remove 94% of my debt in less than six months. All legally. All above board. Without having to sell my home from beneath us. And all through Him and His strength.
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