My husband doesn’t wear the pants in our family; rather he wears my pants in the family. Okay, no need to drop your jaw. It’s not like I came home one day to find him frolicking with my clothes or trying on…well, never mind.
No. We were having an ordinary conversation when all of a sudden he turned and bent over to grab his wallet. I recognized the pockets! Thankfully, they weren’t my rhinestone-doo-dadded jeans, but the ones with the yellow swirls on the pocket flaps.
Sure, we share socks or old tee-shirts sometimes, especially for painting or gardening, but never jeans. I’m especially mortified that they fit him! You should know that I’m not overweight and he’s not particularly a skinny guy, so quite frankly I’m puzzled. I laughed and told him to “drop your drawers.”
You’re wondering what this has to do with leadership. It’s a stretch (pun intended), but here goes:
Different pants for different folks.
Some of us prefer plain Levis, others the flashy kind. Similarly, we all have different leadership styles. None of them are perfect, and they all have their benefits and drawbacks. The key is to recognize the kind that fits you and to be aware that other styles befit certain roles within the organization. Yes, we can all get along, if we don’t try to make our pants fit the other person.
Try out a new style; you might like it.
I don’t prefer the kind of jeans that flare at the bottom. But give me ten years, and I may change my mind. Likewise, consider changing your leadership style to fit the context of each situation and person. Perhaps one situation calls for a coaching style while another situation calls for a directive style. Regardless, it’s important to not only understand your preferred style but also utilize other leadership styles as appropriate.
If you don’t wear them, somebody else will.
I guess it’s my fault for not hanging my jeans up but instead leaving them lying in a heap for my husband to accidentally grab. Regarding leadership, if you choose not to practice it, somebody else will. This is not to say that we all shouldn’t lead in various ways and at different times. It simply means that if we don’t take on our responsibilities fully, somebody else will—and happily.
Sometimes it is just better for somebody else.
Which brings us to the next point: Sometimes a role or responsibility would be better for somebody else to handle. Now I won’t go as far as to say that my sequined pants would look better on my husband (please, no), but I will go as far as to say that we should be wise and humble enough to know if and when to hand over a task or project to someone whose skills and talents are a better fit. We don’t have to be the best at everything.
Resolve to share.
Sometimes we can simply resolve to share. Pants, no. But socks and leadership, yes. Sharing within the organization—whether ideas, viewpoints, plans, knowledge, skills, talents, roles, and responsibilities—is generally a good “competency” to practice. Sharing empowers and engages others and makes them feel valued and appreciated.
So where does that leave us? Well, as for me, I suppose I’ll hand back those jeans. “Here, honey. These look good on you!”
Now, leader, tell me: Where does that leave you?