I frequently find myself in airports and although each airport is different, most (especially the US ones) have something in common.
About every five minutes, a loud, interrupting, threatening, announcement is played over the loudspeaker telling me all the things I can’t do. I can’t leave my bags unattended, I can’t get transportation at X spot, I can’t bring liquids of this size, I can’t bring a carry-on over X size, I can’t use my phone in X spot… and on and on and on…
It seems every time I hear this, I roll my eyes and think of wanting to get out of the airport as fast as possible to a place of freedom. I wonder, what it is I’m able to do at the airport? Perhaps soon all passengers will have to be tethered to a leash during our stay in the airport to “ensure the safety and security of all passengers.”
Reflecting on this, I think there is a deep leadership priniciple for non-profit operational leaders. Are you someone who is constantly telling people what they can’t do? Or, are you leading the charge in accelerating your organization’s mission by boldly proclaiming all the new possibilities your team can open up?
Your leaders, above and below you, don’t want to hear what can’t be done. They want to know what can be done.