Today I had lunch with a good friend of mine. I catch up with Daniel at least a couple of times a year, and I always look forward to our chats.
We are both leaders with lots of difference experiences over the years. Both reluctant leaders who never set out to intentionally get into leadership, but just found ourselves naturally gravitating into leadership roles in our work and other spheres.
I can really relate to Daniel. And inevitably when we get together we end up share stories and insights that always seem to be exactly what each of us needed to hear at the time.
Today was no different.
A young man who was lost
Daniel told me today of a young man named Trent at his current company. Trent is a recent graduate with only a year or so experience in the workforce. Passionate, eager, but as it turns out lost and confused.
When Daniel joined the company he met Trent and invited him out for a walk to get to know him.
Daniel is a great listener, and one of the most authentic people you will ever meet. Within 30 minutes Trent had opened up to him.
“Daniel, I’m completely lost. The business leaders have big expectations, but I don’t know what I’m meant to do or how to do it. I’ve been spending my time trying to do things and look busy, but the truth is I don’t know what to do.”
Trent had been struggling through a really difficult and uncomfortable situation at the company. The business leaders weren’t very approachable and Trent was afraid of exposing the fact that he was lost. Every day he was having to face the excruciating experience of being responsible for something but not knowing how to achieve it. And having no one he could turn to for support.
Daniel had a short clear response for Trent:
“Don’t worry Trent. From now on you and I are in this together. I’m going to mentor you and coach you. We’ll teach each other and together we’ll figure out how to be successful here”.
The power of an act of love
Daniel’s statement to Trent was a powerful one. It wasn’t just his words, but the fact that he completely meant what he said.
Trent also intuitively sensed he has safe with Daniel. He had been afraid to raise his situation with the other business leaders, but not with Daniel.
Daniel embodied what it is to be a loving leader. He held the value of Trent to the fullest degree. He believed in him. He committed himself to helping him. And he was completely honest that he didn’t currently have all the answers, but would figure it out together.
How differently must Trent have been feeling after that walk with Daniel than before? Meeting Daniel must have been like a streak of sunshine breaking through a cloudy sky.
The story Daniel told me was from over 6 months ago. Zooming forward to the present day, Trent is delivering beyond expectation in the business. He has learned a huge amount from working closely with Daniel over that 6 months. Trent is now mentoring another new person, and Daniel feels he is ready to lead a small team should the opportunity arise.
Perhaps most powerfully, Trent has learned one of the most valuable lessons there is to learn – the empowering effect of unconditional love. He has had the privilege to work with a wonderful loving leader, and this will influence the way that Trent leads for the rest of his career.
It’s hearing stories like Daniel’s today that gives me such hope that striving to be a loving leader, and encouraging others to do the same, can make such a difference.
Daniel has influenced not just Trent’s career, but his life. And it all started through one conversation grounded in unconditional love.
May we all be on the lookout for the opportunities where we can follow in Daniel’s footsteps.