Archive for December, 2015

Leadership and the Bully Pulpit

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Which of the current national/global leaders in the news are you most like? Least like? In this time of high emotion and controversy, your reactions say a lot about you as a leader.

 

With the news spotlight on national and international leaders, it’s a good time for every leader to think again about what it means to be in a formal leadership role.

 

On the global stage, terrorism is calling every kind of leader out of the woodwork – an emigration that has been underway full steam in the US as it ramps up for Decision 2016. A full parade of the powerful and would-be powerful, surrounded by a traumatized public, is vying for the global bully pulpit. It reminds us that leadership is not for the feint of heart!

 

With this in mind, here are some things to think about as you look at the array of people rising to the top in the various crowdsourcing processes that are underway. I won’t list individuals by name – you know who they are. Instead I suggest that as a leader you answer a few questions that relate to how you are shaping your and, because they will emulate you, the next generation’s concept of leader.

 

• Think about the leaders and wannabe leaders in the news today — anywhere in the world. Which of them have qualities you would like to develop in yourself? What are these?

 

• Whose leadership stories will you retell in the future — to people you lead and to future leaders. Think of the stories you will tell as part of your legacy to shape their character and capabilities. What leaders do you want your children to be like?

 

• What qualities are you seeing in leaders and would-be leaders that press your buttons, arouse your emotions, make you want to fight and argue. Dig deeply and you may find at least some connection to your own history and feelings – to qualities and tendencies you don’t like in yourself or remind you of others who have shaped your life. Most of us can find at least some truth in the cartoon-character, Pogo’s, insight: “We have met the enemy, and they is us.” When we have over-the-top reactions to others it often points to something we are marginalizing in ourselves. This even applies to “positive” traits (e.g., “she is too assertive” says an introvert).

 

• For the leaders you most admire and support, play out “what if” for their proposals. Project the consequences into the future and think about three scenarios: the high road (great results, a better future), low road (things get a lot worse) and something in between. Do the same for some of the proposals that you do not agree with. This will help lift you out of the present first order reactions to think about the bigger, longer term picture — a primary responsibility of people in a leadership role.

 

What global leaders are doing and saying in the midst of today’s crises is defining leadership in general. There is a rub-off phenomenon. Something like the McEnroe effect on budding tennis talent in the 70’s: when John threw his racquet and went into a rant, so did many kids in tennis class the next day. What high profile leaders do and say affects how leadership itself is viewed. So be conscious about what this means for how you will progress in your leadership journey.

 

See The Shadow Side of Power: Lessons for Leaders for more thoughts related to being a conscious leader.