Saturday, January 21, 2017

Standing Up During The Storm

True leaders will tell you: I want you to be better than me at this position. Managers will be intimidated by your aspirations and hold you down.

Watching President Obama complete his two terms and hand off the presidency to President Trump, we admire his character and what he brought to the American presidency. Some firsts will go down in history and I cannot argue with his accomplishments. But as half the country complains about Trump and sits in fear as to what his presidency will bring, I can only think about what kind of leader President Obama really was.

This is not a political post but another personal lesson on leadership.

Raise your followers 

As a leader, you have many followers and your hope is that they follow in your footsteps and excel in ways you can't even imagine. Where did we (the American people / his followers) get lost? What lessons did we learn from President Obama and which ones were swept under the rug?

In any relationship, you need to be engaged. The leader needs to set the vision and set a path with limited barriers. The followers need to walk that path and know when to pass the leader or slow down for support.

What happened in the last four and eight years that allowed us to get to this point? One side says it's great- we finally have a non-politician in office. The other is scared, worried that we will be set back 100 years.

Was it the leader or was it the followers? Did we get comfortable with the changes and assume it will always go forward? Did we not plan for the next four, eight or twelve years?

Set a vision but walk-the-walk

It's important to have a clear path of where you want to go. A wise man once said "if you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there."

What's just as critical as knowing where you want to be, you need to take steps to get there. However, any leader in any industry will tell you he is limited by resources (money, people, etc). But how many times will you talk without actually doing the walk? We understand budgets. We understand business strategies. We understand how congress and the senate works (at least we hope we do).

If you don't have the ability to do something, be careful what you commit to. You lose followers because you lose credibility.

Be accountable

It's easy to blame someone else. It's easy to say we ended up here because of the other guy's supporters. How easy is it to make a difference? A real difference? Some people set out to protest. Some were peaceful while others were violent. Women set out on marches, 500,000 roughly in one city.

What else do we need to do to not only make a stand but make a difference? We get caught up believing that we're too small to do anything. We hear about a strategy or a decision and complain about the leader not knowing what they're doing.

How can we learn to take more action and to be accountable for those actions? This goes for both the leaders and the followers. If the leader isn't accountable, isn't credible and cannot be followed, she will naturally be left alone on the path.

Watching changes in the last few months, both at work and in our country, there is a small sense of fear as to what it will bring. There is a lack of control that I cannot fight, but there are elements that I can start to study and see what can be improved the next time around.

It is not easy to sit back and watch your world exponentially change. It is not easy to see policies change faster than the seasons. And it is definitely not easy to embrace those changes or find a way to fight the waves.

It is easy to know what kind of leader you want to follow or even easier- what kind of leader you need to stand up and be during this storm.

Don't go down the path of uncertainty, in fear. Create your path and set of followers and hope the sun will rise again.

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