Despite my openness to feedback, the one comment that I absolutely reject is when I’m told I’m “intimidating.” I don’t buy it. Maybe it’s because I was the farthest thing from cool as a child. Maybe it’s because my mom always tells me how nice I am. Perhaps, it’s because my office door is almost always open. I’m just Dan, not intimidating. Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with a man who intimidates the Italian out of me. However quick-witted I might think I am, he is five steps ahead. Whatever brilliant theory I think I have, he has already thought of it, figured out its major flaw, and generated 3 better theories. As much as I like him, there’s a part of me that has to do some serious mental prep to be ready for him. In this latest encounter, he began by telling me that he just got off the phone with someone who really intimidated him. Say what? How is that possible? His next thought was even more instructive, “It makes me wonder – is this how I make other people feel?” Yes, I answered in my head. “Maybe I need to adjust a little especially with those who I work with.” Definitely, I answered in my head.
It wasn’t until later in the day and after I got over the shock that someone intimidated my intimidating friend, that I made the connection to my own leadership. Am I a person that challenges others to grow or inadvertently compels them to shrink? Despite how nice my mom says I am and what my heart intends, what’s the effect of my affect? Do my words and actions “choke” the Word of God or catalyze it? And, if my super smart friend is questioning his persona, how can I be so sure of mine? Thankfully, this friend has been instrumental in my growth. My door may always open, but am I the leader that makes people want to walk through?