How to Give a Leadership Push!
The helicopter was hovering at about 100 feet off the ground. The rope was in place from the chopper to the ground. And the young men we used to be were excited to rappel down that rope. Well, outwardly, we were excited. We had repelled from fixed towers many times before, but for most us, this was the first time from a helicopter. And we were a little nervous, scarred even. Some more than others. One young man stood up, hooked into the rope, took his position near the opening, and made ready to descend. Then he froze. Couldn’t move except to shake his head and yell ‘no way.’ The sergeant in charge attempted to motivate him to go, but he was having none of it and kept shaking his head ‘no.’ Right up to the moment the sergeant gave him a little nudge. All right, it was more than a nudge, he pushed him out of the back of a helicopter a hundred feet off the ground. Once the young man was outside, on the rope, he did great. Rappelled down perfectly. His training took over and overpowered his fear. At times, we could all use a little push…and at other times, we need to give someone a little push…
Have you ever had a staff member, a volunteer, a leader you work with who found themselves stuck in a situation? Frozen in place when they needed to take action? A bit paralyzed when they really needed to move. In need of a nudge? Or a bit more, a full-on push?
Here are three things to remember when giving some a leadership push?
1. Be sure they’ve been trained first. The sergeant who did the pushing didn’t push an inexperienced Marine. The young man had been trained extensively, and the sergeant knew it. The sergeant had been the one to train the young man in how to rappel. He never would have pushed him into a situation he hadn’t been trained for. We should remember that principle with our leaders, staff, and volunteers. Have we trained them for the situation we are pushing them into?
2. Once you push, get out of the way. Once the sergeant pushed him he had to get out of the way and let him rappel on his own. Granted, it would have been virtually impossible for the sergeant to intervene after the young man went out the back of the helicopter. But in our situations, that’s often the greatest temptation for us. To intervene when we ought to get out of the way. Let them succeed or fail on their own.
3. Don’t forget the belay! Oh yeah! The sergeant knew one other piece of important information. There was someone else on the ground who had the other end of the rope. He was called the ‘belay man.’ His job was simple; to watch the man rappelling and if something went wrong, to pull that rope back and slow the rappelling man’s descent. So that his landing wouldn’t cause injury. When we push someone into a leadership situation it’s important to provide some sort of a safety net; a precaution put in place to keep the landing as safe as possible. In other words, don’t push someone into a leadership situation without insuring there is someone on their team; don’t make them go alone; be sure there is someone they can trust holding the other end of their rope.
So, what do you think? Are you ready to give that staff member, volunteer, leader a little push?
How will you do it?
Is there a better way?
Let me know what you think…
Grace and Peace, Rich