The “Hammering Man” gets one day off. Your leadership doesn’t.

Located in front of the Seattle Art Museum, Hammering Man is a 48 foot high moving sculpture. Hammering Man slowly pounds its’ hammer up and down for 20 hours each and every day. Designed by artist and sculptor Jonathan Borofsky, Hammering Man was built to honor the working-class women and men of the world.  In the words of Borofsky, “he or she is the village craftsman, the South African coal miner, the computer operator, the farmer or the aerospace worker—the people who produce the commodities on which we depend.” Hammering Man works every single day, its only day of rest being Labor Day.

While Hammering Man takes one day off, your leadership is always on. The people in your team rely on you to support them, be their advocate, challenge and coach when appropriate, request and provide feedback on performance, listen to them, and set the overall vision. In short, leadership requires that you care. And caring for your people and the organization doesn’t get a day off. Care, as a noun, is the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something. As a verb, care is to look after and provide for the needs of someone or something. Perhaps it’s not in your job description as a leader, but it should be! This is the work of leadership. While it doesn’t require swinging a hammer up and down all day, when done right, it’s taxing and never takes a day off.

My CEO, Bob Chapman, likes to say that leadership “is a privilege that requires the courage to care.” And yet this courage to care comes with accountability. But if we perceive that care is in opposition to accountability, or something to be balanced, it can be challenging to do either. It can seem as if serving those in your span of care is at the expense of holding them accountable.

Here’s a mental framework to help:

  • Leaders are accountable to themselves: They do what they say they are going to do
  • Leaders hold the team accountable: To doing what they all agree to do (especially in line with the organization’s values)
  • Leaders are accountable to the business: They do what needs to be done
  • Leaders are accountable to their people: They lead vs. manage (no one ever said “please manage me”)
  • Leaders are accountable to the customer: They do what is expected

Before holding their people accountable, leaders hold themselves accountable to their people. This is care. And it’s not easy and it doesn’t get a day off. So while Hammering Man gets a break, here’s to you, the leader, and your courage to care even more and without a break. This is the responsibility of leadership.

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