38: Paperwork versus Peoplework
Are you “people oriented” or “task oriented”? This week I am going to address this topic as it appears in my book “The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make.”
We all fight the battle of paperwork, especially today with all the different ways that people can reachus via phone, text, E-mail, instant message, and more, and all right on our smart phones that are with us wherever we go. The problem is that leadership is about “people work”which I am going to address from Chapter 2 of my book.
What I cover in this episode:
- The greater the leadership role, the less time there seems to be for people.
- The greater the leadership role, the more important “peoplework” is.
- People are opportunities, not interruptions.
- Only through association is there transformation.
People: Opportunities or Interruptions?
I have devised a simple test to determine whether you are task or people oriented. When you are working at your desk, and someone comes up to talk to you just for conversation, do you stop work, smile, and chat until the conversation comes to its natural conclusion? Or do you grimace inside and do anything you can to get the conversation done as quickly as possible. If your answer is the latter, than you are one of us: the ‘Type A’ personality.
This personality type is often described as impatient, time-conscious, insecure about their status, competitive, hostile, and aggressive. They are often considered workaholics and are not very good listeners, and Christian ministries are filled with them.
“My intention always has been to arrive at human contact without enforcing authority. A musician, after all, is not a mili- tary officer. What matters most is human contact. The great mys- tery of music making requires real friendship among those who work together. Every member of the orchestra knows I am with him and her in my heart.” —Carlo Maria Giulini, for- mer conductor, Los Angeles Philharmonic, as quoted in Bennis and Nanus, Leaders
Our society tends to measure success based on accomplishments (which are tasks), rather than our people skills and how we solve problems among people. The problem here is that leadership primarily involves working with people and helping them to solve their people problems, and the higher the level leader, the more important this becomes.
What Ever Happened to Peoplework?
If we look in the Gospels, we see that Jesus was much more concerned with Peoplework. Much of His time was spent touching and talking to people, despite the fact that He only had a short time to train the Disciples to carry on His ministry. If you pay attention to the words crowd and multitude in the four Gospels you will see how often the people nearly smothered Him. While paperwork is often designed to help people, the reality is that our busy schedules can get in the way of actually touching people in a transformative way.
People Change through Direct Contact
Many surveys over the years have shown us that the thing that is most influential to people and their growth and maturity is personal contact, not lectures, reading, or anything else. In fact the Bible shows us this time and again as we see leaders spending time and teaching people under them, such as Paul teaching Timothy.
As leaders, we need to remember that we are leaders of people, not paper. At the end of our road, the most important achievements will not be things we did or books we wrote, but the people we personally influenced.