I’m not walking around with just my left or my right side — or just my front without my back. So I don’t believe our spouse ‘completes’ us. I’ve never believed that. We are, each of us, whole, complete people, so another person ‘completing’ us just doesn’t make sense in my mind.
You know what our spouse does (ideally, anyway)? They enhance us.
It’s like when you have blue eyes and you wear that perfect shade of blue shirt, and your eyes just pop! The shirt didn’t change your eye color. But your eyes were enhanced.
Of course, in a real relationship, it’s not just our good qualities that get enhanced, is it? In fact, when we’re with people we’ve chosen to spend our lives with, they can make our negative qualities that much more clear too, because we give over to that relationship our entirety — not just part of us, but all of us (remember? we come complete and whole). We can’t give just part of us, we come as a packaged set — the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. And we enter into relationship anyway. Why?
Because those we come to trust, we are willing to show our weaknesses as well as our strengths. We’re willing to be vulnerable and not run away — even if at times we want to. We’re willing to be in a relationship where all our greatness (which we often can’t even see) and all our insecurities (which we fear are glaring) are respected, honored, appreciated, accepted. Like my best friend Tom says: “Friends are people who know all about us and love us anyway.” Spouses, too. And that goes for leaders as well.
Imagine for a moment if we were to lead in the same way. If as leaders we realized that, with people on our team, we get ALL of them — not just their positive or best qualities. That in a relationship, it’s our job to enhance one another, to bring out the best without running away from the worst. Owning that, sometimes we will do, say, or behave in a manner that enhances and brings out another person’s worst. The cliche’ reads, “What we resist, persists.” When we can create the culture that allows for that level of trust and vulnerability, where no one needs to be afraid of or hide part of their truth for fear of being fired, embarrassed, humiliated or dismissed, where we know their weaknesses aren’t all of who they are, just part of their truth — then, in the end, we get the best of people, because we get the whole of people.
Let us not kid ourselves: leadership is relationship. We manage tasks, we lead people.
Together we can make each other better. In the end, isn’t that why we commit to relationships — personal, professional or otherwise? Because those people we choose to be with, we’re better with them than we are without them? Remember, people chose to work for your company, to join you in your adventure, to partner with you on a project, to marry you for eternity, because they believed they could achieve more, be happier, be a better version of themselves with you than without you. Not because they are incomplete, but because you enhance us.
Who are you enhancing? Who is enhancing you?