A leader’s job is never done

Given that our state was in the path of totality for the August 2017 solar eclipse, people in our neighborhood gathered to watch. The closer we were to the time of totality, the larger the crowd became.

Within five minutes of the awe-inspiring ninety seconds of darkness and coolness, the crowd had largely dispersed.

The lost interest and crowd thinning-out triggered thoughts in my mind of how we tend to think about many things, including leadership, mostly in terms of their headline-making moments.

For leadership, it normally includes ongoing and sometimes mundane behind-the-scenes responsibilities. Relationships are easy to discount, as is neglecting the reality that how we handle its enduring shadows and low lights often shapes our fleeting moments in the spotlight.

Being a leader is a forever kind of thing. It’s not a role to be slipped in and out of when it’s convenient to do. If we want to be described as an effective leader, our vision and guidance have to shine continually in lights both bright and muted.

11 ways to be a leader who shines

A leader who shines continually:

  • knows that leadership is more than dominance, authority, status, and being in the limelight. Thoughtful and effective leaders dance the complicated leadership dance of results and relationships.
  • urges people to heed their better angels in finding meaning and purpose in their work that extends beyond status and money.

Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good. ~Minor Myers

  • leads from values and beliefs, not behaviors, in serving the greater good as well as immediate business and personnel needs.
  • is consistent, responsible, and responsive in times of calm or times of chaos.
  • values service, not status, and stays in touch with employees at all levels of the organization.
  • balances independence and interdependence. Alternates between “we” and “me” standpoints. Also tells the truth no matter how uncomfortable it is and does so with grace.
  • is comfortable leading from the front as well as from behind, understanding that the ability to flex to the situation is strength, not weakness.

A leader…is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, and realizing that all along they are being directed from behind. ~Nelson Mandela

  • encourages diversity of thought, opinion, perspective, and experience. (My grandfather used to say that if someone thought exactly like he did, he didn’t need them on this team. He wanted people who brought new ideas and different outlooks. The older I get, the more I appreciate how fortunate I was to have this influence early in my life.)
  • stops stereotypes in their tracks and manages bias to mitigate its harmful impacts.
  • acknowledges the need to occasionally deal with the superficial and its optics while never losing sight of the depth of issues.
  • knows when to think first and talk later. Knows as well the value of sometimes not talking at all, choosing to listen instead.

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view. ~Harper Lee

I’m glad I watched the eclipse from the beginning until almost the end (when the clouds rolled in and blocked the view). What a great reminder it was of the majesty of the whole process that quietly goes on behind so many actions we take for granted.

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Image credit: Pixabay