Are You Remarkable?
In a world troubled with polarization, patronization and partisan posturing, remarkable leadership is in short supply. As we divide along ideology and certainty, we need remarkable leaders more than ever.
Remarkable leaders use their strengths to strengthen others. They believe that everyone is far more capable than they get to demonstrate and are far more capable than they are generally given credit for.
Remarkable leaders ensure that everyone on their team has the information and resources to make the best decisions and to be able to add the highest value they can to the efforts of the team. If a team member makes a choice based on the information and circumstances and it turns out that the outcomes and consequences were negative, everyone will use it as a learning experience rather than a performance evaluation.
Remarkable leaders provide navigation aids rather than directions. They lavish autonomy, mastery, and purpose (Thanks, Daniel Pink) on their troupe so that the music they make together is both unexpected and inspirational.
Remarkable leaders pour themselves, warts, wishes, worries on the table for all to see, and then they model behavior that shrinks warts, manifests wishes, and turns worries into opportunities. If you, as a remarkable leader, become part of the rhythm of the band, swelling when strength is needed and listening when other's voices rise up, then the song becomes a collaborative creation worthy of the gifts and talents of all the players. If the remarkable leader isn't always writing the score or conducting, she can contribute to harmony or throw in the occasional improvisation or even sit in the balcony and be marveled by the show.
Whether observing the performance or playing along with the orchestra, remarkable leaders extend credit to the entire team, in the presence of the entire team, and when an oboist, flutist, or vocalist nails a solo, the leader recognizes them with specific and immediate praise. This praise recognizes excellence but all forms of feedback are needed to foster continuous improvement and maintain high standards. Many remarkable leaders resist giving any feedback (positive or less positive) because they attempt to lead by being a remarkable friend.
As a remarkable leader, you can expect to be called on to make difficult decisions. What pieces will we play in each show and what will be the grand theme for our season. Difficult decisions need the best information and the best information comes from the input of the entire orchestra. But in the end, the decision about the mission of the company and instruments and players needed lays with the remarkable leader. The responsibility for protecting the mission should be the leader's prime imperative.
At the end of each performance, after the bows, curtain calls, and encores it is time to reflect on the show that was and what tomorrow or next season or the next decade could bring. Remarkable leaders have remarkable vision, honed by experience, informed by research, and courageously audacious through the equal measure of grand successes and the lessons learned from grand stumbles.
Remarkable leadership never stops; yesterday's lessons are remembered, today's opportunities are celebrated, and tomorrow's possibilities are embraced. Strategy and planning are tempered with the realization that certainty is less certain than 20 years ago, that today's best practices may be seen as foolish in 5 years, and that something earth-shattering is closer than most imagine.
Take up your baton, blow your horn, celebrate excellence and improve with rehearsal - become a remarkable leader.
Bob McInnis is a provocateur and coach working with startups and organizations that have recognized that their strategic position is unattainable or unworthy of attaining. Over the past ten years, he has been invited to participate in conferences and speaker series where he gets to ask ridiculously impossible questions and then work with delegates and teams to find equally ridiculous and impossible answers to some of our most wicked problems. He and his wife volunteer as Readers in Residence at the Calgary Children's Reading Place and this summer helped 350 children and their families discover the joy and confidence that reading brings.
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