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You have to have skin as tough as a rhinoceros

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In all successful community groups, people leave their egos at the door, and build a team of people with diverse skills.

Every strong capable, effective team is a combination of good leadership and people who have strong skills in a particular area of expertise, even though they may be weak in another area.

For example, one member of the team may excel in public relations and marketing, but be weak in math and computer skills.

Another person might have great computer and math skills, but have weak people skills.

This presents the leaders of community groups with two distinct challenges.

First, they have to attract the people who have the skills needed to accomplish the goal of the community group.

Then they have to let those people do what they’re good at, and not throw roadblocks in the way.

That’s a difficult task. Many of the people active in community organizations, especially the leaders, are strong personalities who want to leave their mark on the world.

That’s their strength; they will work their butts off to get something done.

But many of the leaders of community groups have been working alone for years trying to get something done. So they’re used to doing everything themselves.

That makes it hard for them to let go and allow other people to do some of the things they have done for so long, even if the other people can do that task much better than they can.

After years of having to do everything themselves, it’s hard for them to trust the efforts of the other team members, who haven’t been down that long hard road.

So they wind up stepping on the toes of the people who have joined the effort to accomplish the goal of the community group.

That’s where the people in the group, and the leaders, have to leave their egos at the door.

There’s a phrase popular in the business management community right now that applies.

You have to have skin as tough as a rhinoceros.

If you want to succeed you can’t be thin-skinned, and get upset when somebody steps on your toes by rejecting your idea or by saying they are going to double check your work.

And you can’t get insulted because somebody does something differently than you would.

You need rhino skin
If you're gonna begin
To walk
Through this world.

Tom Petty
Rhino Skin

For example, if you worked hard on a project for a community group, and the leaders reject what you’ve accomplished because they would have done it in a different way; let it go.

Talk to somebody else in the community group, who has different skills than you do, and ask them to do what they can to smooth the waters.

We’re all human, and we all make mistakes.

But if you want the community group you are in to succeed, you have to leave your ego at the door, and admit that there are some things that are better done by other people.

We all can’t look at a page of numbers and immediately spot the mathematical mistakes. So trust the people who can.

We all can’t create ads that people will actually read. So trust the people who can.

We all can’t dig up the facts hidden in thousands of pages of government documents. So trust the people who can.

Leave the programming to the programmers, the math to the mathematicians, and the ads to the marketing people.

Do what you’re good at and trust your teammates to do what they are good at.

If you are a community leader, who has been working on a project for decades, listen to the people on your team; trust their expertise.

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
Albert Einstein

As the team grows, the long-time leaders have to relinquish some of the everyday tasks to other members of the team, and trust the judgment of their teammates.

If a leader isn’t detail oriented, then another member of the team has to bring that to the table, and the leader has acknowledge that the team member has brought something to the table that the leader never could have.

When leaders doubt the validity of the things other team members have done, or insist on double-checking and verifying all of the work the team members do, the community organization will fail.

The team will fall apart as people get frustrated.

That’s why both leaders and members of community organizations need to leave their egos at the door.

Relax.

If it’s raining, and you can’t get inside; let the water roll off your back.

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