Making Faces — Dealing with the Messiness of Teamwork (with a smile on your face)

This is the season when buying pumpkins reaches its peak. Many folks look forward to their yearly tradition of pumpkin carving and my family is no exception.

Each fall we buy a selection of these roly-poly orange gourds, spread out lots of newspaper on the picnic table, hand out sharp knives, large spoons, and have at it.

It isn’t long before someone asks for a marker…they remember from previous years it’s always better to design the face before you start cutting. Smart.

Better to figure out what you want, plan ahead, and then begin the actual process.

Pumpkin carving is a fun but messy business. A lot like trying to get a job done that involves working smoothly with other people.

Making a plan…you gotta have it.

Otherwise, you end up lots of mess (inside and out) and not much to show for all your effort.

Henry Ford once asked, “Why is it that I always get the whole person when what I really want is a pair of hands?”

While comical, Ford’s quip is frequently what people who want to get a job done are secretly thinking.

The truth is, high achievers don’t want people to get in the way of what they want to do…and they sometimes let it show (on their faces.)

As author John Maxwell notes –

Relationships are messy. Many leaders would rather deal with people only in terms of their work life. But the reality is that when you lead someone, you always get the whole person – including their dysfunctions, home life, health issues, and quirks.

Even though many leaders lament the “messiness” of learning to work with people (as whole individuals) when they develop a longer-angled vision which extends further than the immediate project, it pays off.

Unlike short-sighted leaders who sacrifice the relationships with their colleagues, good leaders are those who in Maxwell’s words —

Good leaders are able to look at hard truths, see people’s flaws, face reality, and do it in a spirit of grace and truth. They don’t avoid problems, they solve them.


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