The actions of several industry leaders have made recent headlines. The flood that swept across Nashville, TN in May brought Mayor Karl Dean to the forefront. The oil spill that continues to destroy the Gulf Coast has brought BP’s CEO Tony Hayward to center stage. And the actions of many leaders on Capitol Hill continue to battle over healthcare and the economy while we watch their exchange like a tennis match.
For many of us, we can’t imagine being cast into the limelight as these leaders have been. Think about it. One day – in each of their worlds – it was business as usual. Then suddenly without warning, emergencies force a new level of leadership and visibility.
While it’s easy to sit in the peanut gallery and critique what we would do or not do in any of these situations, I am challenged with this question: On any given day – emergency or not – would I follow me?
Our focus as leaders is so often placed on our followers – our team, a department group a employees, or a volunteer group. And it should be to a great extent. But how often do we slow the world down to really think about who or what they are following? And if given the chance, would I do the same?
For those serious about leading others, this choice forces us to answer the following three questions:
#1 What am I “known” for?
When your name is mentioned, what adjectives go through others’ minds? The truth is, we do this subconsciously. An opinion or impression passes through our mind when we hear a name or see it pop up on our inbox or phone. The question is – is that impression favorable? Does the recipient look forward to an interaction with you or do they face you with dread or obligation because of your title?
#2 Do I have a plan?
Vision. Strategy. A look into the future. Regardless of your position on the organization chart, if you are a leader, your team looks to you to show them the future. What are our goals for the coming year? How do those initiatives move our department or company forward? In addition, is there a place for me and where do I fit in? Vision excites others and creates engagement. Is my team waiting for me to invite them on our journey?
#3 Am I an influencer?
I have often heard it said that there is no such thing as no influence. You are either moving things forward or backward. A standstill really does not exist. So from that respect, am I moving my sphere of influence of forward? Are we making progress because of my efforts? Or am I a roadblock to advancement?
The truth? No one has it all together all the time. Our journey of learning and growing as a leader really doesn’t have a destination. But we’re not a leader if no one is following us. And if I wouldn’t follow myself, why would anyone else?
Here’s to the next step on your journey.