Updated: Feb 24
“Mama” said my two-year-old son looking up into my face, “I want you to go with me.” I smiled at the common request he frequently asks when I have the least amount of time to stop what I’m doing and go with him on his “important” errand. “It’s probably to go to his room and get a different toy,” I think dismissively. I am a quintessential “get it done” type and anything that gets in the way of getting things done quickly increases my frustration. But something in the way he said this common request caught my ear differently. I asked him to repeat what he had said. “I want you to go WITH me,” he emphasized. I realized what he meant. He had been following me around the house as I checked things off my list and now he wanted me to return the gift of being “with” and take a moment to accompany him while he accomplished something. He had put his little finger on an intrinsic wish of the human heart: we just want someone to be with us.
Now, believe me, I understand the neediness of a two-year-old hardly translates to the work place. Or does it? Do we ever grow out of that wish to be “with” those we enjoy? As I walked down the hall to his room with his little hand happily holding mine, I began to think of people dropping by my office to bounce ideas off of a sounding board, because they wanted someone to be “with” them in their thought process. I thought of those who wanted to join a committee in our office because they would enjoy being “with” the others on the committee. And conversely, I thought of those who refused to join committees or projects because of who will be “with” them.
It turns out this “with” concept has a lot of deep seeded roots that make a lot of sense in any realm of life. My son wanted me to be with him as he picked his next play toy. My colleagues want someone to think through situations with them. My staff want a team of people who they enjoy working with. There’s a lot of “with” there. It got me thinking about what other “withs” exist within the workplace. What do leaders need to practice and encourage “with” environments? Now I’m on a mission to uncover the layers of what it means to do leadership and life “with.” Join me...