Let me introduce myself,  my name is Linda Othote and I collaborate with Dolores Hirschmann in Masters in Clarity.

Dolores’ blog about sailing a 420 with her oldest son and “Expert Leadership” triggered some thoughts about something I experienced recently…

 I had the opportunity to join a large group of volunteers who spent the morning painting and doing yard work at a local elementary school in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

During that time, one interaction clearly reinforced this little nugget of truth: Just because you are the “boss” doesn’t make you a “leader”!  
A little background– 250+ people of all ages and abilities signed up to give this school a facelift in three hours.I had volunteered (in advance) to be a Team Leader– which meant I was responsible for coordinating the painting of 35 feet of a school hallway. My team of ten–people of all ages–included a pair of very enthusiastic eight-year-old twin girls!  Many I did not know, but everyone was willing and excited about the opportunity to render service.

Though there were a few glitches in brushes and paint getting delivered to our area on time; we found ways to still be productive. Some washed down the walls, others pitched in to help a teacher take down posters from the walls of her classroom. I asked a couple more to track down a trash can and drop cloths. All were flexible and accepted the assignments and direction I offered.

Then a “boss” showed up and started barking different “orders” at my team.  It was not only confusing, but it was disruptive. I quietly but firmly explained to her that we knew what we had to do, we had a plan and we were executing it.  She persisted. It became somewhat unpleasant– (I could tell that several team members were confused and put off by her approach.)  So, I calmly stated AGAIN that things were under control.  “We’ve got this.” That was the end of that and she finally moved on to “bark” at the other teams in the hallway. I am still not sure who she was…

We completed the painting and worked well together. Those who were more skilled painters cut in the edges, others rolled the flat surfaces. Those who did not feel confident about painting followed behind and did cleanup to remove drips of paint here and there on the floor boards. 

I didn’t think anything more about the “boss” incident until we were wrapping up. I thanked everyone for their help and for coming. Then three young men (in their late teens) approached me and said, “Thank you for leading with CLARITY and kindness.” 

I have worked professionally for many years as a marketing communications consultant and program/project manager, so I not only enjoy but am accustomed to running/coordinating large teams. But I have to admit I was somewhat stunned by their feedback.

So remember when you are “leading”:

  • Learn/observe/identify what people are “good at”.
  • Be very clear on what you want them to do– why, what and when.
  • If there is a conflict or a disagreement, stand firm–but try to resolve the situation with kindness and CLARITY.
  • Thank them for their contributions.

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather be a “leader” than a “boss”!

As for Dolores, she’s right on!  Everything is better and easier when we make CLARITY a priority in our lives!

Carry on…