A few weeks ago I read an interesting article about grace. Surprisingly, it was in an online business publication. Unfortunately I didn’t bookmark the article and was unable to re-read it, so I decided to blog about it myself.
The idea of grace means a lot to me because it is the foundational belief of my Christian faith. I know that not everyone reading this post is a person of faith, and I respect that, however I would suggest that the practice of grace should be an important part of all of our lives.
In my world grace means “unmerited favor.” It is shown when a person is treated in a kind and generous manner even though s/he may not be deserving of it.
Why Does Grace Matter from A Leadership Perspective?
When a leader shows grace it lets others know that you care about them and want them to succeed. A grace-filled leader comes along side people who make mistakes to help them rectify their problems and move forward. It releases people from constantly having to carry the burden of their mistakes and instead gives them the power and motivation to change.
My Own Personal Experiences
Two personal experiences came to mind when I was thinking about grace. The first was when I was a teenager. I was at a high school pep rally, which I was helping to coordinate. For a second time in a row, just when the pep rally was getting ready to start, the principal came in and cancelled it (of course as a teenager I viewed this as a real tragedy). In front of the rest of the students I told the principal how unfair I thought he was and proceeded to challenge him. I now look back and see how naïve I was.
The principal showed me grace. In front of everyone he could have rightfully corrected me and called me to task for being disrespectful, but he did not. Later he pulled me aside and talked to me about my actions and told me why they were inappropriate. He never brought it up again nor did he treat me any differently. I learned an important lesson that day about the power of grace.
The second was early on in my academic career. A college student’s parent called and asked for information about her son. I gave it to her. This is a big no-no because if a college student is 18-years or older you first have to have permission from the student to release any information. This is correct; we can’t release information to parents even if they are paying for their child’s education.
Little did I know that there was a family feud going on between the student’s divorced parents. The father of the student called my dean complaining that I had given out the information. He was in the right and I was in the wrong.
Instead of reaming me out like she could have, my dean placated the father assuring him that I would not do it again. She called me into her office and had a conversation with me about what I had done. She didn’t yell at me, she didn’t make me feel like I was stupid; instead I left the office on a positive note – learning from my mistake.
Both my principal and dean had showed me the power of grace. In both cases I could have been in big trouble, but they used it as a learning experience to help me become a better person.
An Important Attribute of A Leader
Grace is such an important attribute whether we are leading at home, in the workplace or in the community, because it has the potential to help people become better. Why? Because when grace is shown it:
- Frees our emotion so that we are not focused on trying to survive after our mistake but on taking positive steps to correct the mistake and make better choices next time.
- Makes us want do a good job for the person who demonstrated it.
- Teaches us of how we can pay grace forward to others. Imagine working in a place or living in a home where a sense of grace abounds.
- Frees us to be more productive and creative, because the brain does not have to react out of fear, but can focus on doing quality work.
- Reduces everyone’s stress.
The power of grace does not mean that there are no consequences for our mistakes. I was fortunate in both of my examples that there were little negative ramifications. However in either case, if it had happened again I am sure there would have been repercussions.
The demonstrations of grace in my own life helped me learn valuable lessons and taught me the importance of showing it to others.