Not Leading May be the Best Way to Lead

We have a new kitten, Cookie, and she is very confident, energetic and fearless. Our older cat Buschi has gotten used to her being around over the past month, so much so that we found them like this the other day. One on top of the other enjoying the sunshine together. It was at this moment that we knew she was a good fit for our menagerie and that Buschi had a new friend.

I do not know that we did anything to facilitate the relationship building process, other than leave them to figure it out for themselves. I will admit that colds days in Georgia may have prompted the sharing of warmth and helped them to bond more quickly. Never underestimate the power of adversity in bringing people together. Between cold days, shared spaces, a common enemy in two huge dogs, and sharing the same food bowl these two are fast friends.

As leaders we talk a lot about team building, bonding with people, knowing people, learning how to lead, and how we can best facilitate the growth of those around us. In the case of these two felines I was reminded that sometimes staying out of it is the best practice. Not every relationship needs to be coaxed, forced, workshop-ed, or coordinated by the leader. Sometimes our people are smart enough to be able to do it for themselves BETTER than what we would have imagined. Trying to get involved in the process or ‘leading’ the process may simply be more of a hindrance than a help. The leader NOT needing to lead is an amazing thing; how awesome is it when the people do not need you to get involved? The real clue is knowing when to get involved and when you are not needed.

It was a self reflection moment for me. Knowing that the people (in this case two cats) had the ability to figure it all out without anything from me, other than leaving them alone, was both encouraging and disappointing. I wanted to be the hero helping them figure it out, I wanted to be the ‘leader’ here. In reality my time and energy was better spent doing other things and they didn’t need a leader in any way, shape or form. Sometimes not leading is the best way to lead.

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