If you are wondering what kind of leader you are, or wondering what type of leader people think you are, I would like you to consider the following:
There is so much happening in our world this year, and leadership is more necessary than ever.
For countless numbers of organizations around the globe and across industries, 2020 has been one of the most challenging years to provide leadership. With the pandemic, civil unrest, economic recessions and the shift to remote working, entrepreneurial leaders have had to deal with uncertainty like never before.
Stress can come from everywhere. And now that we are in the fall, schools are back in session, throwing another variable into the mix with parents and children learning in so many ways: from fully in the classroom to fully remote. Throw in wildfires in the west and hurricanes in the east, and it seems like we are being inundated with challenges from every direction.
But through it all, the people who follow you, the leader, have been craving leadership during these highly variable times, and they have been watching you lead. It reminds me of a saying that holds true today:
“Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” Pubilius Syrus
There are storms everywhere it seems, yet the need for calm and leadership has grown. And for some of you, you may have hit a tipping point and done something completely out of character in your organization, at some point over the past six months. If so, then your people most likely said something like this:
“That is completely out of character for him/her. The stress surely must be getting to him/her.”
One of my core values I taught my own children was to never make the same mistake twice. Making mistakes is part of life, and they make us human. We all make mistakes, and some would say that if you have not made many, then you have not been trying hard enough. But making the same mistake, again and again, that’s a different story.
Acting out of character for a second time in front of your people will lead to the following:
“Wow the stress surely must be getting to him/her now, I have never seen him/her like this for so long. Maybe this is who they really are and we just didn’t know it.”
Difficult and challenging times demand leadership. In today’s environment, employees are more worried than ever if they are going to be able to take care of themselves and their loved ones. They will be watching their leaders closely, deciding whether to continue to follow them through the storm, knowing confidently that they will lead them through to the other side, or whether they should look for a new company to join or a different leader to follow.
Why? Because the next time the leader acts out of character, everything has changed.
So how are you leading today? Do your employees trust you to lead them through the chaos, or do they wonder just exactly who you are?
That depends on whether they have seen you once, twice, or many times out of character…or should I say…now no longer out of character…but they now know who you really are?
Consider this quote from one of the greatest basketball coaches ever, John Wooden.
“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when nobody is watching.”
I would challenge you to think about how you have been leading in 2020, both in front of your people and while you are working remotely. Have you made some mistakes and recovered from them? Has the stress taken you out of character a couple of times, and does that have you worried? Or has your true character emerged in front of your employees?
Leadership is not easy, but more than ever it is needed to help us get through 2020 and beyond – as an individual, an organization and a nation.
Lead well and lead consistently.