Whether You’re the Chief or an Indian, Be a Good One

leaderOkay, I’ll take a break from the travelogue this week, even though I don’t want to. I want to keep writing about my awesome trip, talking about my awesome trip, and thinking about my awesome trip because that way I can keep reliving my awesome trip.

I miss it bad.

The time away was great, but unfortunately no temp stepped in to take over my life while I was gone, so I’m still playing catch-up. Most frustrating is how behind I am on my Olympics DVR binge watching. I’m only on Day 5, so don’t tell me medal counts, upsets, triumphs, or what baby Boomer Phelps is posting on Instagram.

Besides the piles of backlog, other deterrents have emerged to hinder my glut on Olympic spirit. I recently accepted some community and church leadership responsibilities. I like being involved and doing my part to serve – most of the time. I’ve had some amazing, life-changing experiences and worked with some incredible people. I’ve also had some frustrating, hair-pulling-out experiences and worked with some…um…“patience-testing” people.

I realize I’ve also been a patience-tester for others.

Through it all, I’ve learned some important lessons about what makes a good chief and a good Indian. Let’s touch on the role of chief first since, by nature, I definitely have headdress tendencies. I don’t always like this about myself but I am who I am, so I embrace it and exercise it when asked (and when not asked sometimes).

A golden rule for success in this challenging role is: Guide, rather than dictate. Unless you’re like Gru and able to create and control your own population of obeisant minions, you have to collaborate with others. This can be difficult when differing ideas are presented, but in such situations I use the scale of “preference vs. principle.” If an idea is a matter of different taste but still supports the main goals and purposes and doesn’t overextend resources, then go with it. If the idea veers from the desired objective or maxes people and/or funds, time to pull rank.

When you’re chief you quickly learn the value of good Indians. Dependable people who do what they’re asked to do, what they say they’re going to do, or even offer to do more are worth their wait in gold. People who consistently read and respond to texts and emails should be granted sainthood. A committee member once profusely apologized to me for flaking on an assignment. I consoled him by saying everyone is forgetful sometimes. He explained he didn’t forget, he just never reads any of my communications.

Loyalty also ranks as highly desirable for followers. I was victim of a full-fledged coup d’etat as a girls camp leader once. The rebellion against me did not arise from a rowdy band of teenage girls, but grown women who were supposed to be my assistants but didn’t think they would have to do anything they didn’t like while camping.

Though being a follower doesn’t come as natural to me, I’ve worked very hard to try and become a good one. Just a warning to any chiefs I’m asked to follow. Don’t ask me, “What do you think?” unless you really mean it.


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