I am a free man! Free to enjoy my summer (the six weeks that are left) and whatever fun I can scrap together in that time. As all good graduate classes should, the completion of this one adjusted my perspective on life, even if only in a small way. A five week lesson on leaderships sounds like it may be a bit dull and possibly dry, but I was pleasantly surprised to find just the opposite…
Our teacher (not professor) was a man who has experienced international business in a very real and hands-on kind of way. He wasn’t spouting off BS from a textbook, he was sharing the real deal. He was also incredibly political incorrect (I hate political correctness and tip-toeing around issues) and had the goal and intent of improving our lives as business folks, not just blasting through a course. What a breath of fresh air that was! Someone who was both skilled in business AND in touch with reality… my only complaint is that we only got five weeks with his thoughts and ideas.
This idea of leadership is overused, underrated, and thrown around so much that it loses it’s meaning. We think of leaders and think of men in bold suits leading the country as President, making gut-wrenching decisions, not necessarily your average Joe just getting by in their everyday jobs. That is where we have the idea of leadership severely skewed.
The argument always rages back and forth between the issue of is a leader born a leader or do they learn to be a leader. Frankly, I have a hard time believing anyone can be born a leader, however, I do believe people are born with certain attributes that are more likely to give them the skills and ease of learning to become a leader. Leadership does not mean that you are always the center of the action, making all of the decisions, or ordering people around.
Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow. –Mary Anne Radmacher
Sometimes the greatest leaders are the ones who sit in the back of the room, quietly motivating and leading the groups that they are in to deliver a quality product, provide fantastic customer service, or offering their opinions and services to others. In my experience, the people who assumed the loud, boisterous role of a “leader” were the ones who A) should never have been there and B) were overcompensating for their lack of actual leadership abilities.
It is the true leaders who realize that being in the spotlight isn’t what leadership is all about, they must also possess the courage to get up after being slugged in the face, to admit mistakes when they make them, and to lead with both their heart and their mind and the interest of the company. It’s a delicate balancing act, but leaders who put their company’s interest ahead of their people are doomed to an unfulfilled career, and leaders who don’t think that they are capable of error have already failed.
Our world has seen it’s fair share of leaders come and go. The good ones, the great ones, the ones who make you feel ill, and the ones who inspire you to bigger and better things. I still believe that it is not the leaders in the spotlight who get us where we need to be (although they have a place) but the ones who lead internally, almost passively. Show me a leader willing to admit when times are tough, who will stick up for their underlings and the work that they do, and who always lives with integrity and unselfish action, and you will find a company or workforce or organizational system that is setup for success, growth, and great things.
Courage presses on when times are tough. Carries on through the tunnel with no end in sight. Perseveres even when hope is lost. Races even when the bike portion is cut. Shoulders the burdens of those around them with no expectation of anything in return. Remains loyal in the face of intimidation. Stays rooted in what in their beliefs and does not sway when the storms begin to blow.