There was one sentence she said during our coaching call that I couldn’t get out of my mind and it stuck with me long after our conversation ended.
“Leadership is lonely.”
My client was wrestling with her current situation. As the leader of her team at work and the leader of her family at home, she was struck by the profound, almost solemn, responsibility she had to the people who follow her. And it felt pretty solitary.
I secretly wished it were different, but sadly I had to acknowledge that she was right.
Right now, being a leader can feel a lot like living on a deserted island.
Leadership is lonely, because we have a shortage of good people leading well.
We’ve been hoping for good leaders. And some of us have been praying for them to show up.
But, here’s the truth:
WE NEED TO STOP SEARCHING FOR BETTER LEADERS.
WE NEED TO BECOME THEM.
If you’ve paid attention during these last three months and watched how our world has navigated through a plethora of COVID- 19 challenges, you know that we’ve inadvertently been attending a masterclass in crisis leadership.
We’ve been witness to world leaders, civic leaders and church leaders. And as parents, we’ve had to step up and lead our families through the crisis of the pandemic. I’m sure you’d agree that you’ve seen some good leadership. And, most likely you also have experienced leadership that’s sorely lacking, without the skills and words to assure and protect.
Up until last week, I thought that the pandemic was the one global crisis that would put good leaders to the test and weed out the rest.
My heart hurts as I accept that an event even more unsettling and volatile has emerged and rocked us to our core, requiring even more from our already weary current leaders.
In response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, our nation’s cities have been burning and our people are hurting.
We have deep divisions to heal
and systems to fix.
none of that can begin
until the devastating riots and chaos cease.
Now, more than ever, we need leaders we can trust.
John Maxwell, considered by many to be the expert at leading leaders said, “There are three qualities a leader must exemplify to build trust: competence, connection, and character.”
If you are a parent and/or a member of a community, whether or not you work outside of your home, you ALREADY ARE A LEADER. Our children are watching what you do, listening to what you say and deciding to follow you (or not).
Because people are already looking to you, it’s your responsibility to not only lead, but lead well.
Here’s what each one of us can do to use this upheaval as an opportunity to become a TRUSTED leader.
FIRST, REFLECT ON THE PAST.
As Nancy Koeh said, in her Harvard Business Review article, “Leaders are forged in crisis.”
For each one of us to become the leader we need right now, we need to look back and learn from the leaders of the past. And with this retrospection, we need to assess their actions against our own beliefs and values. We need to ask ourselves important questions, such as: “What did Churchill do right? Where do I see him lacking?” And, “Where did Lincoln shine? What leadership characteristics of his would I change, if I could?”
NEXT, GAUGE THE CURRENT LEADERSHIP.
To be a trusted leader, use your beliefs and core values as a filter, and watch how our current leaders are managing and leading us through crises. Look at our current governors, our cities mayors and our civic leaders.
When her beloved city of Atlanta was being targeted by rioters, the city’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, emerged with grace and strength. She taught us how to show emotion and simultaneously control a very volatile situation. During her news conference we learned that compassion and strength are not mutually exclusive.
While we’re being lead by our current leaders, it’s important to ask ourselves important questions like, “What makes me feel compelled to follow? What makes me feel protected and empowered?” And, as importantly, we need to ask and answer for ourselves, “What would I do differently to affect change?”
FINALLY, BECOME THE LEADER YOU SEEK.
Now, more than ever before, we need to trust our leaders and we need to know that they see and hear us. We need leaders who take personal responsibility and empower us to be responsible ourselves. We need leaders who are impeccable communicators. Our cities need protecting and our communities need healing and our families need strengthening.
While there are many organizers, there are few that lead.
Organizers say, “Come on guys! Let’s do this thing!”
Leaders say, “Come on guys! Let’s do this thing! I hear you and I feel what you’re feeling. I have an idea and I know we can do this. It’s not going to be easy, but I’ll do it with you. This is what we can do. And because of what we value, this is what we’re not going to do. I believe in you!”
Over the last 3 months, and more recently, during the 8 days of rioting and civil unrest, I wonder if you’ve been like my client and you’ve been feeling alone. And perhaps like me, you’ve been asking, “Where are the good leaders?”
We don’t need to look far, but we do need to look within.
The trusted leader can be cultivated within each one of us.
In this unsettling time, with massive uncertainty and unrest, we need more trusted leaders than ever before.
If you’ve ever wanted to BE better, PARENT better or PARTNER better,
then it’s your responsibility to learn to LEAD BETTER.
If you’d like a partner, contact me for a free, 60 minute, strategy session. You’ll leave the call with strategies and tools so you can lead through any crisis.