The Tightrope of Leadership

As leaders and change-agents, we walk a daily tight-rope between how we “should” do things because that’s how they’ve always been done … which may be contrary to what believe matters today and tomorrow. Leadership is no different.

To be a true leader, we must walk this tightrope in our daily actions.  While most people would not want to be in our leadership shoes for fear of ridicule, being ostracized or publicly called out … they secretly and silently cheer us on.  One day you are a hero … the next day you are a zero.

For almost 20 years I”ve been writing, speaking and coaching leaders to courageously use the “F” word and the “V” word.  F as in feelings and V as in Values- as in pay attention, stop pretending they don’t matter because they do.

At first, I treaded lightly, because I was told if I didn’t, no one would listen.  So I did as I was told and followed the rules, like most of us do.

Sure, after about the 10 year milestone, and with the help of platforms like the Lead Change Blog, I no longer felt like a fish out of water.  In fact, I discovered a whole community who also believed as I did.   While I felt validated seeing others were willing to break the rules  mattered, there was a “Yes, but …”

Yes, but I felt I was “preaching to the choir” when it came to the characteristics and behaviors of what it REALLY takes for a leader, someone of influence and power, to motivate, inspire and lead people, small businesses and organizations to be outrageously successful (hint: the operative word here is PEOPLE so pay attention).

But who am I, one who’s never walked in a CEO -of-a-Fortune-500′s-Company’s-Shoes to tell YOU how to be a successful leader as a card-carrying MBA, CXO?

Personally, I’m done walking the tightrope, being careful and “should-ing”  when it comes to the words I choose to use to describe what it takes to lead people today.  I’m through with hiding, pretending and using politically-correct language to get heard in the corporate world.  Join me in instigating this leadership revolution:  Walk your talk, call it what it is and refuse to hide behind the leadership speak of  “human capital”  and other such almost-there-but-not phrases.  Thanks … it sure felt good to get that off my chest.

Leaders: Get Real!

Let’s get real and cut to the bottom line.

What I realize in my almost 20 years of experience with PEOPLE is that no matter what your title, you are still a human being who works with other human beings to motivate, inspire and get the job done.  Period.

Here’s the bottom-line question:  When it comes to the “F” word, what are you so afraid of when it comes to your own feelings, the feelings and needs of your team or that of your customers? And while the word values gets tossed around like the latest fad, are you taking actions based on your values on a daily basis?

Twenty years ago, I was told not to tell potential companies (clients) my credentials came from the field of systems and therapy, (marriage &, family) which raised eyebrows anyhow, but because it would intimated and “scare” corporate types. Inside I thought but the bottom line in achieving success in business  IS about understanding relationships and people yet I kept my silence, afraid of being ostracized in the leadership development field.

Fast forward to 2012:  If management guru’s who have the corporate credentials like Gary Hamel and Mike Myatt, or experts on emotional intelligence like Daniel Goleman, or even executive coaches to the top Fortune 100 CEO’s like Marshall Goldsmith can say it, then so can those of  us who are executive coaches who have been treading not-so-lightly on the sidelines as our clients nod in silent agreement.

Here’s my challenge to you:  If you are a CXO, CEO, COO, CFO or have the title of a leader and aren’t afraid to say it out loud it’s more necessary than ever before.  Stay tuned for the first collaborative effort by many of your Lead Change Group authors “Character-based Leadership: Instigating a leadership revolution one person at a time.” Read it, pass it along, spread the word.

As a leader who has the ability and responsibility to authentically influence others to create value, join us in the LeadChange effort – AND don’t be quiet about it.

Now who’s talking?

The Harvard Business Review, Forbes and the McKinsey Quarterly post “Leading in the 21st Century” are also printing what it takes to be an extraordinary leader in today’s world:  be human, a rule-breaker and authentic.  Gary Tramel’s What Matters Now says it loudly, too. You don’t have to look far to find out what it takes to be a Sustainable Leader who is built to last who’s goals are to not simply survive, but to thrive through the warp-speed of the global economy and change.  The consistent message is be courageous enough to be human every day.  Which means to be vulnerable and to be real and walk your talk, balancing confidence and vulnerability.

The good news is you will find it takes a lot less effort to be authentic than it does to pretend. The tough part is knowing what your values and beliefs are so that you can walk your talk every day in every conversation.  If you are unclear how to take action in this area, there are  plenty of highly qualified and experienced folks in this group to assist you.

Take action and connect with one … just get started before you fall off the tightrope or get left behind by other rule-breaking leaders who are already taking action.

How do you show up as a leader in your business and what is YOUR leadership tightrope made of?

 

 

Christina Haxton
Christina combines psychology with humor and brain science to enable newly promoted executives to harness the power of their potential to become authentic and sustainable leaders who motivate, understand and develop themselves and others to create built-to-last people-driven organizations. Connect with Christina on her LeadChange profile, Twitter, LinkedIn or her blog. Also, check out Lessons from the T.R.A.I.L: The Art & Science of Exceptional Leadership on Christina's website!
Christina Haxton