Thursday, July 28, 2011

Passing on the glory

Mentoring and coaching affirm and boost skills and opportunities in others. It's not that hard to find people who claim to be a mentor or coach, but quality varies widely.

I LOVE my coach, Jodi Detrick. She clarifies my thinking, asks thoughtful questions that make me pause to consider options, and helps put my goals into focus. Her assistance and counsel opened several doors for me this spring that I would never have been able to pass through alone. Without self-promotion or hesitation, she's done the same for many influencial leaders across the nation. Thanks, Jodi!

David's trials with his son Absalom spotlight the humility, generosity, and astonishing character of Barzillai the Gileadite (2 Samuel 19:31-39). Absalom rebels and chases his father from Jerusalem, Barzillai stands by his king, providing supplies and assistance. As David returns after Absalom's insurrection ends, he offers Barzillai a place in the King's palace, benefits of influence and access, and a seat at his table.

The old man is a realist. "I'm 80, and rich food and influence don't really interest me. However, there's someone I value, someone who has served well, and who would benefit from your offer. Let me present my servant Kimham. I'd love to promote him because I can't take full advantage of your kindness myself."

Kimham got his big break when he worked for Barzillai. But the old man went beyond mentoring and giving good job reviews. He placed his protegee in the seat of power to his own loss, boosting him into circles of high influence, catapulting him into King David's inner circle. The prophet Jeremiah mentions a city named after Kimham (Jer. 41:17), though we don't read any more about the younger man's exploits with David or his sons. It was up to Kimham to live up to his opportunity.

Some mentors offer advice and training, but feel threatened, resentful, and angry when their servant becomes greater than they, when their hireling achieves stardom, or when the mentor is left behind. Such greedy leaders note their own stalemate and erect roadblocks for underlings instead of continually pushing others forward. They promote themselves, sabotage others' good ideas, and fight to stay on top of their hierarchical heap.

I wish I'd had a boss like Barzillai. Growing up, my own dad created great expectations of such leadership. I've watched him shamelessly encourage and promote employees and younger talent who showed any lick of ambition or courage. Every eager and gifted employee longs for a promoter and booster like him.

Like my father, I am determined to copy Barzillai, rejoicing when people I mentor surpass my abilities and achievements.

If you have position or power in your organization, deliberately step back from the limelight to promote others. Help them excel beyond your sphere of authority. Boost them to pass you by, do better than you, and make you proud as they stand on your strong shoulders.

When someone who once worked for you becomes great in the ocean outside your little fishpond, let them name you as the fearless, honest power broker who made them shine. This is the only way your influence can expand and lives on through others' greater glory and achievements.

Like Barzillai, you will become known and admired in wide circles beyond any grappling, politicking, or self-protection that promotes your own interests and hard-won executive post. Live big! (I promise it won't make you smaller.)

Read more:
*Barzillai the Gileadite also came down from Rogelim to cross the Jordan with the king and to send him on his way from there. Now Barzillai was a very old man, eighty years of age. He had provided for the king during his stay in Mahanaim, for he was a very wealthy man.

The king said to Barzillai, “Cross over with me and stay with me in Jerusalem, and I will provide for you.”

But Barzillai answered the king, “How many more years will I live, that I should go up to Jerusalem with the king? I am now eighty years old. Can I tell the difference between what is good and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats and drinks? Can I still hear the voices of men and women singers? Why should your servant be an added burden to my lord the king? Your servant will cross over the Jordan with the king for a short distance, but why should the king reward me in this way? Let your servant return, that I may die in my own town near the tomb of my father and mother. But here is your servant Kimham. Let him cross over with my lord the king. Do for him whatever pleases you.”

The king said, “Kimham shall cross over with me, and I will do for him whatever pleases you. And anything you desire from me I will do for you.”

So all the people crossed the Jordan, and then the king crossed over. The king kissed Barzillai and gave him his blessing, and Barzillai returned to his home. When the king crossed over to Gilgal, Kimham crossed with him. All the troops of Judah and half the troops of Israel had taken the king over. 2 Samuel 19: 31-40 NIV

No comments:

Post a Comment