As a leader, you probably want your team to grow. By getting bigger, you automatically assume you will be able to accomplish more and see greater returns on your investment. But what if focusing on bigger numbers really isn’t the answer?
While you may see numerical growth as a worthy goal, chances are many of the people you lead may not. They envision that type of growth as something that will make you less available. Right now, they can reach you when they have to. They fear growth for many reasons and one of them is that it will create distance between you and them. You’ll no longer be accessible.
They also have fears about becoming just a number. Right now you know them by name and make time to connect with them. If more people come along, they reason, they’ll be just another face in the crowd. Just another number. Nobody wants to be just another number.
So do you have to give up your dream of leading a large organization? No. In fact, many leaders of large organizations are beginning to rethink growth. Yes, they still want to grow and recognize the need to do so. However, what they are realizing is that in order to grow big, you have to think small.
More precisely, you have to think big and small. For example, you have to take care of your whole body. But if you neglect the small parts, the results can be deadly. Why? Because both big and small work together. Without properly functioning members, the whole body is less healthy. The point being, individual members need personal attention and care. The best way for them to get the care they need is in intimate settings. So it’s o.k. to think big, but in the process, don’t overlook the details. Don’t forget people still long for opportunities to connect with others socially.
Hitting more close to home, think about your personal development for a minute. You’re to be congratulated for taking care of yourself and making healthy choices. But what I’ve seen in my own personal experience is that people can get so focused on themselves that it wreaks havoc on the people they care about most. Kudos to you for taking your health to the next level, but in your zeal to improve, don’t forget your family. Having said that, is there a particular area in your life that is in need of repair? Is there a friend you’ve lost contact with in your flurry of activity?
When you take time to make small repairs, your whole life improves. Sometimes it only takes a phone call, or a conversation over a cup of coffee. If you’re especially driven, these types of things may seem like a waste of time. If that’s the case, learn how to waste time. God can use what you think is a waste of time to impact people. Again, if you want to have impact, you have to have intimacy.
Model intimacy with those you lead. If you’re a Mom, this means your children and spouse. Don’t get so busy that you don’t carve out time to connect with your loved ones. Relationships thrive on both quality and quantity time. Is there a particular family right now who needs your attention? You may have the nicest lawn in town, Dad, but your kids could care less, especially if in the process of maintaining it, you’re neglecting them.
You don’t have to wait until you’re bigger to grow. Maybe you’re discouraged right now because you’re organization or family is not growing. You don’t have to wait until you have 1,000 people following you to be a great leader. Invest in the relationships you already have. “Do not despise the day of small things” (Zechariah 4:10). All healthy large organisms are a conglomeration of small, properly functioning units. Growth is not just about numbers and you don’t need numbers to pursue it. Invest in what you have and God will give you more.
When you study the life of Jesus you see this principle in action. Yes, he drew large crowds many times throughout his ministry. However, as influential as he was, he often made time for up-close, personal, interactions. In fact, it’s likely that his ability to impress people up close impacted his effectiveness with the crowds. You’ll have no large fire unless you take time to kindle a small one.
Jesus not only spent time with large crowds and individuals, he also spent time with small groups. The last three to three and a half years of his life he primarily spent time with twelve individuals. They ate together, traveled together, played together, cried together and more. Talk about intimate, intentional leadership. When all was said and done, his small band of followers were equipped to turn the world upside down.
If you were honest, in your pursuit to grow more influential, have you started focusing on the big things and neglecting the small? In particular, is there a relationship that needs watering? You’re not alone. In the corporate world we live in it’s so easy to get focused on the macro at the expense of the micro. So if you want to grow, don’t just think big or small, think both.