As leaders, we tend to apply labels to those we lead:
Whether the labels are always true doesn’t really matter. If they are sometimes true or were once true in a make-or-break moment, those labels become all-too-easy to apply and way too hard to peel off.
We default to those labels when considering someone for an advancement, for an expansion of tasks, for a calculated risk. We fall back on those labels when we attempt to lay blame, when we want to avoid conflict, when we need the easy way out.
And what’s worse, we allow those labels to serve as the sum total of that person’s personality. Whether or not it should inform everything, that one little word informs…well…everything.
Think about those you’re leading today: those on your team at work. Those coming up through the ranks. Those you’ve written off. Those just looking for a chance. How have you labeled them? How does your one word summary of their life, their work, and of God’s work in their life help them? Harm them? Give them an unfair advantage or a doomed-before-they-start disadvantage?
Labels matter. Before you start applying them to people, make sure it’s a label you want to stick.