Qualifying projects include activities such as building park benches or picnic tables, constructing a playground, organizing a blood drive for the blood bank or creating a garden area at a local nursing home.
Over the years, I've known several parents – most often mothers – who have taken over these projects to make sure they get completed.
They go way beyond encouragement and support.
They come up with the idea. They make the calls. They raise money to help fund the project. They organize the volunteers. They do the lion’s share of the work. And afterwards, they assist in writing up the report and preparing the display for the Court of Honor ceremony.
Meanwhile, their sons’ involvement is marginalized.
Unfortunately, this dynamic undermines the real purpose of the project: for a young man to assume a leadership role and manage a significant project from beginning to end. And at the same time, he’s robbed of a sense of accomplishment that comes when a person makes a tangible contribution to the community.
The parent communicates one or both of these messages to the young person:
“You aren't capable of doing this on your own.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll take care of this for you.”
One of the most important jobs of a leader – whether at work or at home – is to create a strong sense of self-reliance and self-confidence in those you lead.
You help them see they are capable of doing more than they first thought, by giving opportunities to risk, stretch and grow.
But often, managers and parents unwittingly do just the opposite.
Maybe you’re reluctant to give up control because someone may not do the task as well as you could.
Or you believe you don’t have time to teach the person and it will be easier to do it yourself.
Or maybe you’re afraid of looking bad if the person makes mistakes or even fails at the project.
Empowering people to perform at their best means that you have to be clear about the goal, give them what they need, and encourage them along the way. If you can help others believe that they can do what’s required, you’ll be amazed at what they’ll achieve.
“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” - Sam Walton, American business leader (1918-1998)
"Leadership is lifting a person's vision to higher sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations." - Peter Drucker, American author (1909- 2005)
“A mediocre person tells. A good person explains. A superior person demonstrates. A great person inspires others to see for themselves.” - Harvey Mackay, American author (1933- )