Thursday, January 23, 2014

Leaders Without Masks

"Jim Gordon: I never cared who you were.

Batman: And you were right.

Jim Gordon: Shouldn't the people know the hero who saved them?

Batman: A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy's shoulders, to let him know the world hadn't ended."

We are all superheroes in disguise. Well, that is if we choose to be. We practice empathy and care for someone in need. We demonstrate respect and humility to let those voice their concerns in their heart. And we do it all without the mask. 

Ironically enough though, my peer who I'll call Kay, prepped the agenda for our monthly meeting and requested that we dress up as our favorite superhero. 

Corny at best it's definitely a way to 'bring fun back into work.' So today, I woke up on a good note. Not to an alarm but to a surprisingly refreshed mind that said "Get up Tima; the world is waiting for your innovations." 

I got dressed in probably my most comfy outfit as if I were going to a 7AM lecture at ASU and not work. 

Long gray shirt with quarter sleeves that fell off the shoulder on one side and not the other. Leggings that are so thick in material, they would not be suitable for yoga so maybe suitable for public. And my high fuscia boots. 

I stopped at Matador coffee where I finally saw a familiar face who I remember since 2009 when they first opened their shop. Hadn't seen him in two years, our smiles lit up the coffee shop as he made my iced bullseye. 

Fast forward to my drive to work, listening to frank Sinatra hoping for a great day regardless how big the pile on my desk is- I'm about to get off the freeway and realize 'ahh, I didn't bring a cape!' I laughed at myself and smiled at the fact that we have someone like Kay in our organization who's trying to help with engagement and culture. 

The day was bumpy from the beginning. Meeting after meeting on items I didn't agree with, I kept quiet and reminded myself to breathe. 

Then following lunch, I spent almost three hours in a conference room mapping out the next best system for our organization's success. 

Kay myself and a few other people were working on different continuous improvement efforts. Three-twenty came along and Kay excused herself to go take care of something. 

Sitting now with only one of my peers, we conversed on the system and chatted on other items. Then my phone rang and Kay needed me. 

I packed up my stuff and dashed across the parking lot. Left my stuff at my desk only to grab my keys. 

Within 10 mins of her call, I was able to pick her up safely. 

After resolving some things, we drove back to work to drop off the food that Kay went to get for the monthly meeting. 

I walked in late knowing that I had good reason for being late. When I finally had a grasp on where I was, I sat down, thankfully across two smiling, reassuring faces. The meeting continued. 

Being that it was a monthly staff meeting with a room full of managers and leaders (and I say that for a reason) things got heated. I was frustrated. I was confused. I felt unheard and disrespected. So I kept quiet the rest of the meeting and took minutes to follow up on issues at a later time. 

I safely made it home and went straight to my room. 

"Need to relax and remember to breath" I told myself, as cliche as it was. 

When I finally started feeling better and relaxed enough to go to sleep, my mom came into my room and hands me the phone without warning only to hear my friend crying on the other end. 

She hung up on me to put her baby to sleep. So I waited patiently for 20 minutes or so, then contacted her. I didn't know what was wrong. I didn't know why she was crying but I told her I'm hear to listen. Listen to her cry or listen to her breath or listen to her brag about the amazing 77 degree January weather we had today. 

Without hesitation she opened up to me but interestingly enough without saying any details. I listened. And started to feel what she felt. Then after about and hour and half, she was smiling again and relaxed enough to get some rest. 

Although this is a long story, the point is by being a good person, you can be there for those around you. 

You can rescue them when they're stranded on the side of the road. 

You can redeem them of their tears and let them breath in the process. 

You can be their superhero and all you needed was your bucket of good friendship traits-

Listener; respecter; empathizer; caregiver; teacher; motivator. 

Sounds a lot like a good leader too.   

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