Julie Young is one of the most forward-thinking, discerning, innovative, encouraging, thoughtful, team-building, and wise leaders I know. She leads the Florida Virtual School, an accredited, public, online, e-learning school serving students K-12 all over the world. Almost 15 years ago, FLVS was founded. It was the country’s first state-wide, internet-based, public high school and has grown now to over 122,000 students and 1400 staff members. FLVS is part of the Florida public education system and serves students in all 67 Florida districts, 49 states, and 57 countries.
I had the privilege of coaching her two sons, and I am blessed with a friendship with her husband. I have utmost respect for them, and that’s why I asked her to share with me four suggestions regarding how she is cultivating daily in the marketplace – loving the people she encounters and leads there in hopes that they will know that they are loved unconditionally and graciously by the God who came near in Christ.
So grateful for Julie. Hope these will encourage you, too! Here are her four suggestions:
1. Share God’s love for them.
Even if you do not put the “God” label on it, you can share God’s love with others in the workplace by letting them know how special and precious they are. Even a simple note of thanks or praise can brighten someone’s day and turn off the negative thoughts and feelings that the Devil has planted in their minds. People need to know that they have a purpose. Others can usually point out someone’s strengths a lot easier than they can, and this can be linked to God’s love for them when it encourages them with the simple message, “You are the only one that can do what you do!”
I constantly try and recognize others publically for the good work they do, both with staff and students. I relish sharing the notes that come from parents who are obviously believers. It often allows me to share God’s Word as many parents will quote the Bible or thank God for their experiences and FLVS. One of my goals is for all staff to feel that I love them regardless of our distance or lack of a face to face relationship. I try to make the environment fun and relaxed and playful.
2. Give the grace you have been given.
We all get frustrated and flustered with co-workers from time to time. But no one is perfect. God gives me grace when I don’t get it right, or when I am just plain wrong. May we not neglect to give others the same. Just like the slave whose debt was forgiven and then refused to forgive other’s debts to him, you can end up in a bad situation.
I try to continually emphasize the value of mistakes and only ask that people try and not make the same mistake twice. I also look closely at whether or not a “mistake” is negligence and intentional or an honest mistake. I take those mishaps and turn them into learning lessons for all. In addition, I believe in second chances for those who have a committed heart to the organization. A person who may be unsuccessful in their role but is clearly dedicated to the organization and its leadership will have an opportunity to take a mulligan and move to another position in the organization if available and start over.
3. Create an environment with your words.
The Bible tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue. You are the only one who can control what comes out of your mouth. So choose to create a positive and uplifting environment by speaking positively even if you have to give someone a correction or discipline. You will be amazed at how people’s attitudes will change when the positive words you speak start to take life as they are planted in the hearts of those around you.
Using the words, “blessed, loved, give back, be an example” etc. in notes and verbal comments often let people know where your heart is. It also gives them permission to express themselves. Using quotes from John Maxwell (some of my favorite leadership books), Andy Andrews, and others who are Christ-followers often times sends folks to those books for a good read. They get a two-for. :)
4. Set an example with integrity.
Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking. Jesus was the greatest example that we will ever have of that. Even when tempted after fasting 40 days and nights, where no one could see him, He did not waiver in doing what he knew was right. Remember, even if no one else is looking, God is, and our Father lifts those up who listen to Him and put Him first. He gives them favor, not only with those around them but also with authority as well.
One of the greatest ways to cultivate the Gospel is to refuse to come down to the world’s standards by maintaining your integrity everyday. My goal has always been to operate with transparency. If I make a mistake or have a gap, I share it and take public responsibility for it. I work diligently to set the example for others rather than be the exception due to my title. It’s funny, my team is always trying to give me a reserved parking spot or an exemption from a rule that others are expected to follow. I make it known in a humble fashion that I am no different; I just have a different job. I hold myself to the highest standards when it comes to budget and people management.
Great stuff, Julie!!! Thank you so very much for sharing these suggestions with us and for your leadership example.
Give Bruce a hug from me. And tell him I said I hope UK can win the 2012 Duke Invitational Tournament, I mean the 2012 NCAA Tournament. It is after all the 20th anniversary of “THE SHOT.” :)