One of my realizations (both working for leaders and serving as one) has been that all of our actions should be about doing things FOR people, rather than TO them.
This is an important realization, as at times, leaders may see themselves as the means to an end, rather than a step towards a means to an end.
Being directive certainly has its place in organizations, but it can’t be the only place that a leader goes to.
When people have things done to them, they begin to feel as if they have no say in the matter, and that their opportunity to take the lead or complete a task does not exist. When we do things to people, we also tend to make it personal, whether we mean to or not.
Doing something to somebody makes it all about the person-to-person interaction, something that the best leaders know is the key to success. If we pull too tightly on the strings of relationships too often, they’re bound to break.
However, when we do things for others, we act in a selfless way. Our goal is to help (rather than to punish, as doing things to someone can fell like), and while there are times when help isn’t wanted, we do all require help from time-to-time.
The goal for leaders is to determine how best to do things for people, and that is where knowing your community comes into play.
Some community members are comfortable with outward displays of assistance, others would prefer if that helping hand stays veiled. The only way to tell is by learning first, and leading second.
Regardless, the difference between “to” and “for” is extremely important. By focusing on the “for” we can still provide aid when needed, without taking the wheel out of the hands of those who need to learn how to drive.