Are You Ready For Your Leadership Close-up?

Leadership manifests itself in moments. Defining moments in which we do — or do not - transcend me for we, champion good over evil, or take the high road instead of the low one.

So many public leadership moments have happened lately that have made me pause.

I'm haunted by Donald Trump’s moment in New Hampshire when he forfeited the opportunity to set a good example by correcting the man who made a false claim about the President's faith.

The Pope’s address to Congress was a moment in which he let the light shine on the positive power of love, humility, and connection.

John Boehner’s resignation was another. He took his moment and stepped down from a post important to him to stave off a fight contrary to the greater good.

These moments, with audiences large and small, public and private, happen every day. They are spontaneous snippets of time that define us as someone to emulate and follow or sideline us as unworthy, uninteresting, or irrelevant.

How Can We Be Ready When Our Leadership Close-Up Happens?

There are several internal decisions we have to make, and be ready to act upon, if we want to make the most of our moment(s).

Am I prepared to touch the touchy issues?

Silence in pursuit of maintaining the peace or avoiding conflict only perpetuates the status quo. When we fail to call out the elephant in the room, individuals and groups continue to be marginalized, bias and stereotype prevail, and people and principles get lost in the pursuit of profits. Even if the message is a hard one for some to hear or for us to verbalize, a leader follows his moral compass about what’s right and what’s needed, and makes her voice heard.

One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.
~ Maya Angelou

Do I want to be first respected or liked?

To me, making a sustained, positive difference is the purpose of life, not winning popularity contests. And doing that requires us to take a stand, even when it isn’t popular or easy to do so. This was a hard-learned lesson for me. We’re hard-wired to want connection, and we aren’t normally inclined to accept the discomfort we feel so acutely when people don’t like us, especially when they’re not shy about letting that be known. But, despite the discomfort, it’s better to be respected than to sacrifice rightness for being liked because once lost, trust and credibility are wicked hard to regain.

The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.
~ Michel de Montaigne

Do I know when to be selfish and when to be selfless?

There’s so much magic and allure in being known as the one who solved a challenging problem or created something new. The warm light of adulation can be seductive. Yet, the best outcomes and answers usually happen when we throw the doors of participation wide open and invite everyone to play a part. Being selfless doesn’t mean being a doormat. It just means we don’t hog center stage. It means we’ve found the sweet spot of self-awareness, alignment, and commitment between our wants, needs, and beliefs.

Leadership should be more participative than directive, more enabling than performing.
~ Mary D. Poole