"A leader's future is shaped by the people closest to him or her. A leader's personal network is their emotional fuel: the models, heroes, mentors, inner circle, and accountability partners." – Dr Tim Elmore.
This season may be one of the most challenging times for senior-living leaders and managers. Not only are these leaders expected to solve complex problems that impact residents and team members, but they are also forced to be creative and innovative in providing and instilling emotional fuel into all those that choose to follow their leadership. Many of our leaders are working as dishwashers, caregivers, servers, and recruiters; the list is endless. Giving to others is inherent in their nature, but the question remains: Who fills their emotional tank?
We all need people in our lives that don't merely take from us, but who also pour into us so that we can be replenished and have more to pour into those we serve. According to Dr. Tim Elmore, "If leaders don't have this network of people in place, they will use their followers to meet this need. This almost always leads to unhealthy situations."
There is a frequently quoted proverb, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." The process of sharpening an iron is one that involves grinding the blades against each other so that the dull portions of the blade are removed. It is only by clearing the dull section of the blade that a new, sharper edge is formed.
As I reflect on this process, it helps me understand why leaders cannot leverage their followers as their "network." People who are our models, heroes, mentors, and inner circle must be completely transparent, without hidden or ulterior motives, for the process of "grinding and sharpening" to have maximum effective results. Having people in our lives who hold us accountable, who offer us guidance, who see our weaknesses and still have a beautiful way of helping us be the best people we can be are priceless, but for leaders they are truly the sum of who we are.
We have all heard it said, "Show me your network, and I will show you your net worth."
I have found that in life, not just in business, having a network of people who are your "emotional fuel" is the difference between running on fumes and driving on a full tank of gas. Part of self-care is pampering yourself professionally and personally with a rich network of people that bring out the best in you. Driving on a full tank is not just convenient for the driver; it is nourishing to the car's engine. Similarly, having a supportive and thriving network of positive people surrounding us will provide us with the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual fuel we need to face tomorrow's challenges.