actions. — Harold S. Geneen
In his book the 360º Leader, John Maxwell shares a story about
President Harry S. Truman speaking at the National War College. In the
speech, Truman said, “You know, it’s easy for the Monday morning
quarterback to say what the coach should have done, after the game is
over. But when the decision is up before you — and on my desk I have a
motto which says ‘The Buck Stops Here’— the decision has to be made.”
On another occasion Truman said, “The president —whoever he is — has
to decide. He can’t pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the
deciding for him. That’s his job.” For the leader, the weight of
responsibility can be a heavy burden to carry. Seldom do others see
behind the scenes the struggles many leaders deal with on a regular
To be sure, stress in the workplace is something to reckon with on
many levels. The Huffington Post reported on a recent finding from the
third annual Work Stress Survey, conducted by Harris Interactive. The
results last year found that 73 percent of Americans were stressed at
work. This year, that number jumped to 83 percent. Only 17 percent of
workers said nothing about their jobs causing them stress.
Regardless of your present station in your organizational structure
there are things you can do to lift your leader.
Why is this important? When you commit yourself to lifting your leader
you are crating the kind of culture within your organization that can
have residual effects that ripple through your organization in a
Consider these five for starters.
Lighten your leader’s load. When you lighten the load of your leader
you are freeing up his or her ability to focus on larger and more
consequential things for your organization. Lightening the load
happens as you look past just what is good for you and look at what is
good for the organization. When you lighten the leader’s load you
increase his capacity to grow.
Listen to your leader’s concerns. The “Buck Stops Here” responsibility
weighs heavily on your leader. You can lighten the load of your leader
as you listen to the verbal and pay attention to the non-verbal
communications. When you know what is on the mind of your leader you
can do your part to put his mind at ease.
Leverage your leader’s strengths. You always want your leader in a
position of strength in any given situation. Leveraging the strength
of your leader can also include finding creative ways of assisting in
his weaker areas. When you are conscious of this it can be a real
boost to your leader and can give your company extra leverage it may
need. Strong leaders make for strong teams. Lift up the strengths of
your leader and everyone benefits.
Learn from your leader. You can lift, encourage, and empower your
leader when you commit yourself to learn from him. The investment he
or she has made in you should be cause for enough consideration that
they feel you have some potential. Succession in leadership is not a
birthright, it’s earned. You can lift your leader by showing respect
and learning from their experiences and expertise.
Laugh with your leader. Leadership is a journey filled with many
surprises. It’s filled with joys and heartache and a little bit of
everything else in between. Charles M. Schultz said, “If I were given
the opportunity to present a gift to the next generation, it would be
the ability for each individual to learn to laugh at himself.” Never
underestimate the power of laughter in leadership. You can lift your
leader when you laugh with your leader.
Lifting your leader is a matter of strong intuition, being a little
less selfish, and realizing that one day you may be a position where
you’d like to call upon these acts of kindness. When you lift your
leader you are growing as a leader. What do you say?
Doug Dickerson is a syndicated columnist. He writes a weekly column
for this newspaper. To contact Doug Dickerson, email him at