When President Truman was about to hand over the presidency to Ike Eisenhower, he said: “Poor Ike, he has no idea what he is about to get into! As a General, to get something done he simply ordered it and it was done. As a President he will order it and nothing will happen.” Welcome to the world of leadership! ☺
In these days of challenging economic, social and political conditions, leadership is needed more urgently than ever!!! What triggered the writing of this blog was an e-mail from an IT Magazine recommending seven new books on leadership… Seven!!!??? I couldn’t believe it, especially the sales pitch which said: “worth your time”. In today’s twitter world, thousands of pages on any subject seems inefficient!
This blog is but a drop of insight that may be summarized in a few tweets, but for a deeper dive into leadership, I suggest you google your way into all aspects of leadership readily available in abundance in cyber space.
Leaders are people who seem to know where we need to go next, they are clear about the way forward and how to get there. They know how to shift gears from words to actions to accomplishments. Good leaders also know when to lead and when to be led. That means leadership is situational sensitive: today the situation may demand that you lead and tomorrow it may demand that you follow. Unlike management, leadership is not a position: it’s a state of being, an option and a choice!
Leaders create leaders – The best indicator of leadership is that leaders know how to create other leaders who may surpass them. They never confuse accomplishments at any cost with leadership. Like great wine, great leadership delivers for the longer term…
When I think about leadership, I often think of my mom. Like most moms, she knows how to lead the family. Relentlessly, optimistically and unconditionally, she builds her children and loves seeing them grow to be even greater than she is.
When I was a child and all through my youth, it was my mom who was always clear about what to do next. She always used words that my sisters, brothers and I understood. She knew when we were off track and gently moved in to nudge us back on track. When she gave feedback, it was always in the moment with just-in-time actionable advice. Her rewards were immediate and often a hug, a kiss or an unmistakable ‘I am not amused’ but still loving look. We never doubted her motivation or commitment for our well-being or the well-being of the whole family. She was always willing to listen to our incoherent rants, wants and demands and gently gave her loving advice. For some reason, she was rarely wrong…
As we grew older, my mom never used fancy words or complicated concepts. She was a natural. She spoke softly and never raised her voice. She stressed sharing and encouraged the older kids to look after the younger ones and the stronger ones to look after the weaker. She always emphasized the need to help each other. My theory is that, when you have seven children to raise, leadership becomes a necessity not an option. And therefore leadership is a learned concept that springs out of the need to address the challenges that life throws at us. Leadership is something we can all learn, nurture and practice! With seven active and rowdy children, I suppose my mom had lots of practice and that is why she became such a great leader! My dad, who also cared enormously was too busy bringing home the dough and the fuel that kept the family going, for which we were all grateful, especially my mom!
Given all the hype, talk and thousands of documents on leadership – not to mention the seven new additional books on leadership that are “worth your time to read” – I am puzzled by the state of the world today: wars, social upheavals, growing disparity between the rich and the poor, organizational disharmony and much small “p” politics played at the office. With media that’s focused on sensational negative news, It often feels as if we [the human race] are heading in the wrong direction. Why? Maybe not enough of us listened to our mothers who all along instilled values, gave advice and shared lessons-learned with us. Instead we searched far and wide, and at times got lost looking for answers when the answers were right there, coming from mom, around the kitchen table.
Maybe we should try “Mom’s Way” in regards to leadership: simplicity, focus, care, trust and helping one another, looking forward instead of looking back, encouraging instead of criticizing. And above all, loving unconditionally which is at the heart of human values that are the hallmark of all moms. Moms are natural teachers who nurture and help us grow to reach our full potential and no matter how tough their day is, they are always there with get of your butt and get things done attitude, ready to help with a loving smile to boot☺!
Love you Mom!