I trust you are all safe and doing well… hopefully, together with families and loved ones. Who “would have thunk” our world would be turned upside-down in such a short period of time? This week, I’m sending a couple of thoughts for all of us to ponder over the coming days and weeks.
- As students of leadership, the current environment provides wonderful lessons almost everywhere we look… some of those lessons are positive and might fall under the heading: “Effective Leadership Behaviors & Actions,” and some of the lessons will likely fall under the heading “Ineffective (perhaps even destructive) Leadership Behaviors and Actions.” As I reflect on my life and career, I have learned instructive leadership lessons from both “bad” & “good” leaders alike; from “bad” leaders I have learned what not to do, and how not to act; from “good” leaders I have learned behaviors I strive to emulate and incorporate into my personal approach to leadership. Leadership lessons, of all flavors, are everywhere, especially in this time of unprecedented crisis and turmoil.I encourage you to pay attention to the world around you over the coming days and weeks. Pay attention to your emotions and reactions to others. When do you feel confident, upbeat and hopeful about the future? When do you feel the opposite, and why? What leadership behaviors tend to be demotivating and/or tend to magnify your sense of hopelessness, fear or futility? What leadership behaviors tend to amplify divisiveness, self-centeredness and scarcity thinking?
From my perspective, the leadership conundrum we all face, regardless of our station in life, is: “How do we inform people about the seriousness of the situation without perpetuating fear and hysteria? How do we draw people together and leverage the best in humanity? How do we unite people across oceans, borders, political lines, generational and social-economic status? What leadership behaviors do you tend to gravitate towards and why? How can I make a difference for others?”
I submit there are powerful lessons to be learned regardless of position, rank, or leadership level in our respective organizations, communities or families. The “University of Leadership in Real Life” is open for business.
One of my mentors once taught me this axiom: “The only thing between us (all of humanity) and world peace, is a common enemy to fight, one single green Martian, as an example.” Ladies and gentlemen, our country, and our world, have many common enemies to attack including COVID-19, divisiveness and fear. Disease knows no boundaries and has provided a need for all of humanity to be united in the service of others.
- I don’t know about you, but I suspect I’m not alone in having a desire to help others. I don’t know how, I don’t know who, or where just yet, I just know there are countless people needing help of all kinds during this crisis. We must each find a way to do our part, where we are, with those around us, for those we love and those we serve. Someone much smarter than me once told of a personal accountability concept called “100%/0% thinking.” It is simply a mental model, a way of thinking that tends to separate leaders from the rest of us. Perhaps this is a topic for another day to cover in more detail. For now, the concept is focused on each of us taking 100% responsibility for our thoughts, actions and reactions (and our posts on social media) to the current crisis.
None of us control the current situation, and yet, each of us does have the freedom to choose our personal responses. I love the Victor Frankl quote regarding this topic.
Look at the illustration inset created by Carrie Stephens Art. Effective people, and effective leaders invest most of their time and energy focused on those things they can control or influence. Time and energy spent on things, people, and situations we don’t control, is wasted time and energy.
If you’re active on social media, which of the areas would your “posts” likely fall into? Think about your roles as a parent, friend, work colleague, and neighbor; in what ways have your behaviors and communication demonstrated a “leadership mentality” or a “victimhood mentality?” As a reminder, every minute spent outside of our personal “circle of control” is also a minute not spent in our personal “circle of control.”
I submit effective leaders focus most of their time on what they can control and/or where they have an opportunity to influence. Leaders are constantly asking themselves, “How can I make a positive difference, where I am right now, with the people I touch, the people I influence, and the people I love? What else can I be doing to help those less fortunate than myself, to serve others?
It is human nature to gravitate to the negative, to worry about what the future might bring, to have selfish desires, to hoard food, sanitizers and toilet paper. Leaders deliberately override those fears and consciously choose differently. Let’s focus on what we can control in each of our respective worlds. Each of us can make a difference, and each of us should try.
How will you live, or lead, differently or better this coming week?
“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”
Do you know someone who might benefit from this weekly leadership minute? If so, please feel free to pass along the subscription link below:
- “Hope is renewed each time that you see a person you know, who is deeply involved in the struggle of life, helping another person.” – Albert Schweitzer
- “Great souls are grown through struggles and storms and seasons of suffering.” – Rick Warren
- “I’ve never forgotten for long at a time that living is struggle. I know that every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for—whether it’s a field, or a home, or a country.” – Thorton Wilder