Years ago, I heard a motivational speech by Lou Holtz, the famous football coach. He said there are three questions everyone should ask about their leaders . . .
- Can I trust him?
- Does he know what he’s talking about?
- Does he care about me?
If you’re an alliteration guy or you want extra credit, you can call it “Character, Competency, and Compassion.”
If you don’t trust your leader, life’s going to be hard. You’re parsing everything they say. Looking for discrepancies. Questioning their motives. Thinking “just how many lies does this guy think he can tell me without me seeing through him?” There are few leaders we trust entirely, but it’s incredible to be a part of it when we do. If you can’t trust your leader, start looking for other options.
But even trustworthy leaders have to be able to perform. To hold up their end of the bargain. I may trust my neighbor’s son, who just finished medical school, but I’m nervous if he’s my brain surgeon, and I’m his first patient. Competency is the easiest of these three “C’s” to change. Training and experience will likely make this one better over time.
And no matter how trustworthy or competent, we have to know our leader cares about us. If they don’t care, and if we don’t know they care, we’ll second guess their competency or character when something goes wrong. My friend is wrestling with choosing a surgeon for a precise and important procedure. He’s asking “Do I want a surgeon who’s done 5,000 of these, but doesn’t know me from Adam? Or do I want a one who’s done 500, but I know cares about me?”
If you’re struggling with your leader, ask these three questions. They may point you to the reason it’s not working and help you know what you need to talk through with that leader. Yeah, I know . . . some things just can’t be fixed, and you’d probably better have your resume ready before you go. But at least you’ll know why you’re uneasy, and you both can be alert for chances to make it better.
If you want to play in the bonus round, turn the question on yourself. “When others look at me, do they see someone who can be trusted? Who knows what he’s talking about? Who cares about them?” Maybe ask a few people who know you, follow you, and whom you respect. But only ask these questions if you’re ready to hear the answers and if you’re serious about acting on what they tell you.
Scripture: Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant (Matthew 20:26)