This week I had a chance to go bike riding with Anita and Todd. It would be accurate to say that I was nervous. If you have been reading our blog for a while you know that Todd is a serious biker (for example, view here). Anita also bikes for fun and exercise. On the other hand, I’m lucky to get on a bike once a month.
As it turned out, we had a good time. Stopping to take a few selfies was fun too. I saw them glance over occasionally to be sure I was keeping up, but they included me in the group and we all kept pace. It made me want to do more biking this summer.
Back in high school, I was invited to ride with a couple of friends. I showed up with my three-speed Schwinn, and they arrived in full bike gear with the latest lightweight bikes. I found out later that one of them was training for an Iron Man competition. I felt completely outclassed and made the first available excuse to let them go on without me.
When I told that story to Todd, he said: “You don’t invite someone for a social ride and then show up for hard core biking.” Clearly he knows how to be inclusive of people who have different skill levels and help them enjoy his sport.
As leaders, we are often in this situation. Building organizational talent means making space for people to experiment and learn, even when we could do it quicker (and maybe better) by ourselves. Sometimes we have to slow down so other people can keep pace. Showing up for hard core biking can make new team members or those who are still learning feel intimidated, and they may check out – just like I did in high school.
What do you do to help less experienced colleagues become involved in your work?