Published by John Terry - The Black Belt Leader in Leadership · 18 September 2020
Oiling the Gears
John L. Terry, III - The Black Belt Leader
Growing up, my grandfather owned and operated a full-service gas station and garage. One of the early lessons he shared with me was the importance of regularly checking the oil levels in a vehicle...something he religiously did with his beloved "Betsy". I continued those habits and from time to time remind my own children to do likewise.
But not everyone had a grandfather or a father who passed on this important knowledge. Several years back, I received call from a young lady who was from Central America attending the same local college as me who needed a ride to class because her car wouldn't start. Thinking it was a dead battery, I gave her a ride home after class, pulled the jumper cables out of my trunk, and thought I'd be the "hero" who saved the day.
I popped the hood of her car, hooked up the jumper cables to my her car battery and mine and said, "Turn the crank." Nothing. You could hear the click of the solenoid and the groan of the starter, but the engine did not start. A friend who was with me grabbed a wrench and reached deep into the engine. After a couple of strong tugs, he shook his head.
"The engine's locked up," he said. The young college student asked what that meant. He explained that, due to a lack of lubrication, the engine had overheated causing the internal gears to seize up. He asked if she had been checking the oil levels in her vehicle, and the "deer in the headlights look" told the tale. "How do you do that?" she asked.
We then asked if she had seen a red light come on as she was driving, and she nodded. "I thought that was a reminder to get the oil changed and I was waiting until the first of the month when I got paid so I could get that done." She was heartbroken when we told her the engine would have to either be rebuilt or she'd have to buy a new car.
Needless to say, several of us pitched in to get her to and from classes the remainder of the semester (her last) and to and from the grocery store as she didn't have the money to replace the engine or buy a new car. Thankfully she was able to get a good-paying job right out of college, purchased a new car, and to this day religiously maintains it. Lesson learned.
The team you're leading is the engine that drives your organization's success. It is the responsibility of the leader to create the environment for creativity and productivity to prosper. When a Team is properly nurtured, trained, and resourced, it can operate like a well-oiled machine, with tremendous results following.
While most leaders do a great job of resourcing their Team (giving them what they physically need to get the job done), along with nominal training, most leaders fail when it comes to nurturing and encouraging their teammates. The failure of leadership when it comes to connecting with their team members on a personal level is akin to ignoring the oil light flashing on the dashboard - and can ultimately lead to the success engine of the operation grinding to a screeching halt.
So what do leaders need to do when it comes to nurturing their team members?
Leaders need to value their people and add value to them through words and corresponding actions. Calling your team members by their name, visiting them in their workspace, asking about their family, and showing interest in their life outside the workplace demonstrates your concern for their welfare and well being as individuals.
Leaders should also continually cast vision, reminding those of the Team of how the work they are doing benefits others. By keeping the vision before the Team and sharing how the work they are doing is making a difference in the lives of others. When people understand their efforts are improving the lives of others, making life better, they feel a sense of accomplishment that drives both improvements in the quality and quantity of results.
It's also important that leaders remind their Team members the organization could not achieve the incredible levels of success they are experiencing without them. The people need to know they matter, they are important, and they are individually and corporately contributing to the organization's overall success. This is an incredible motivator, as it gives them a sense of ownership in the organizational outcomes.
Lastly, leaders should be investing in the personal growth and development of their people. My mentor, John Maxwell, says that leaders should want more for their people. I believe a good leader is committed to continually equipping their people. Why? When you develop those on your Team, you improve the quality of their thinking, which empowers them to see new and innovative ways to elevate and improve performance.
When a leader invests in the success of those on the Team, better employees result. As they learn to lead themselves well and make good choices, productivity improves. Profits rise and new challenges can be taken on, further expanding the influence and impact of the organization in the marketplace.
Leadership candidates emerge from the ranks, allowing a leader to selectively start grooming those who will one day take their place. No organization has ever suffered from an abundance of values-based, results-oriented, people-centric leaders.
Remember, the team you're leading is the engine that drives your organization's success. It's your job to keep that engine running smoothly. Oil the gears regularly with nurturing, training, and resourcing so high-performance results can continue.
2X martial arts Hall of Fame inductee, John Terry (The Black Belt Leader) is passionate about helping others become Black Belt Leaders in Life. He is a motivational speaker, leadership, sales & communication coach, and trainer.
Jessie Terry, John's daughter, is a Certified Speaker, Coach, and Trainer with the John Maxwell Team and is actively involved in the JMT Global Youth Initiative. She is also a Real-Life Management trained coach and a certified Women-Safe Self-Defense Instructor.
For more information, schedule John (or Jessie) to speak to your organization or to book a personal, group or corporate coaching session, visit our website at www.beablackbeltleader.com.
If you are a faith-based organization, learn more about John and Jessie's outreach to churches, para-church organizations, or faith-based volunteer groups by visiting www.DunamisFactor.com.
John is an Executive Director with the John Maxwell Team and is passionate about helping others pursue excellence as they become "Leaders in Life". He is also a Master Coach & Trainer with Real Life Management, a human behavioral training organization helping people learn how to live "Real Life" and make better choices when it comes to relationships, money, health, and wellness. John is also a certified DISC Human Behavior Consultant.
John's newest book, Black Belt Leadership 101, debuted as a #1 New Release on Amazon Kindle in late March and has been on the Amazon Best Sellers List for over 2 months. Also available in paperback, this book highlights the 10 essential character traits necessary to live life as a Black Belt Leader in Life.
Why just be a leader, when you can be a Black Belt Leader?
This book includes a Discussion Guide for either your own personal growth and development or to facilitate a group discussion with your Team. Get your copy today.