There comes a time in each of our leadership journeys when we must look inwardly to create the change we so desperately seek. Is now that time for you?
There comes a time in each of our leadership journeys when we must look inwardly, look to our own values, our own courage, our own energy, to create the change we so desperately seek. There comes a time when blaming others and using circumstances or our environment as an excuse for not achieving our full potential does not drown out the voice that whispers, “You can do more. Go through what stands in your way and accomplish.”
I think most of us can say, at one time or another, we have had a bad leader. Whether that leader was a teacher who said you'd never be good at math, a boss who could not move critical projects forward and created a culture of stuck, or a political leader who never seemed able to say, “we messed up,” we’ve all experienced less than stellar leadership.
Don't get me wrong, I believe in the impact of spectacular leadership. Heck, I have built a career on the belief that effective leadership can change lives. But - here’s the kicker - the absence of strong effective external leadership is never a good excuse to abdicate our own responsibility to strong effective SELF leadership. NEVER!
Self leadership, before organizational leadership, is a cornerstone of the MF Consulting philosophy. It is a cornerstone of my life. What I mean is, mirror first - or at least second if my ego gets the best of me (which it sometimes does 😉 ). When I look to blame others for my lack of progress, for frustration, for not getting an account, for not achieving revenue targets, for difficult relationships, for not getting a promotion, for employees letting me down, for paying too much in tax, I know that, yes, while it may be true that others are disappointing me or creating obstacles for me, it's NOT about them! It is about who I become in the face of those disappointments and obstacles. In the absence of a perfect environment, who do I choose to be and what behaviours do I choose to engage in?
When a CEO that I had the privilege of working with for many years was moving on, everyone was devastated. And I don't use that word lightly. Morale was so low and sad at the farewell party I started bringing out trays of tequila shooters. I was asked to give the speech because everyone else was too sad. And what I reminded people of was that, while it was true that he had been a spectacular leader, a leader we trusted and respected, the true legacy of his leadership would be who we decided to be without him. If, as a result of his departure, we became cynical and stopped trying and stopped focusing and stopped driving change, he in fact was not as great a leader as we were giving him credit for. While it was lovely and powerful to work for someone who inspired us and aspired us to be values-based leaders, we were capable of continuing the journey without him. We needed to focus on who we were going to be in the absence of his leadership. And once he was gone, many of us achieved great things; what a testament to him and, most importantly, to ourselves!
So, I ask you, at the beginning of this new decade, what do you want to create this year? What is it you stand for? What do you want to accomplish? What do you want to evolve? What are you willing to risk? How much effort are you willing to expend? What are you willing to hold yourself accountable to? A bad leader should never get in the way of what you want to create...they just require that we develop different strategies for success. Answering these questions is the most important work you can do this year. So, if you are worried about your team, your organizational president, your CEO, your mayor, your premier, your manager...go to the bathroom right now and look in the mirror. Ask yourself, in light of these circumstances, who do I need to be?
If you find yourself saying, “I can't because she (or he)…”, I call BS. You can. You just haven't found the way.