The Secret of Getting Ahead is Getting Started…Mark Twain
I penned my thoughts to write on America’s Biggest Leaders, but somehow found my way to the mailbox. There I saw Fortune’s list of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. It was no surprise that Geoff Colvin identified the world’s most extraordinary leaders with his criteria being among the living and currently active in their leadership roles. These great individuals included the likes of Pope Francis, Bill Clinton, Warren Buffet, Geoffrey Canada, Angelina Jolie, and others.
I shifted my attention to deceased leaders instead. These individuals were unlike the mega entrepreneurs discussed in Buchholz’s New Ideas From Dead CEOs. Since Leadership means different things to different people, I decided to use Bill Clinton’s definition. In his words, leadership is bringing people together in pursuit of a common cause, developing a plan to achieve it, and staying with it until the goal is achieved. He believes that leaders share the attributes of steadfastness in pursuit of a goal, flexibility in determining how best to achieve it; the courage to make hard decisions; and the confidence to stay with it and explain it.
As the world yearns for effective leadership, it seems to defy us, and as Colvin asserts, it is becoming even more difficult to identify. Of the various leadership attributes, humility was a trait identified by Jim Collins in his research on Good to Great leaders. This quality seems to evade leaders in our society today, in their quest to achieve Success. Humility enamors not being arrogant, haughty or conceited. But more the qualities of being unpretentious and unassuming; modest, courteous, respectful, teachable and selfless.
Top humble leaders that have passed on that emerging leaders can learn from include Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Eleanor Roosevelt, among others. As the ambitious individuals among us strive to be great, humility is encouraged. Let’s be mindful that once “we think we have got it, we have lost it”.
What are your thoughts? Which other past humble leader can you add?
Every Great Dream begins with a Dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to Change the World.
It’s not what you say, but how you say it. Just imagine hearing of the tragic passing of your loved one … by text message. The news in itself is devastating. But that is exactly what airline officials did. ABC news reported that It was communicated:
“Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived. As you will hear in the next hour from Malaysia’s Prime Minister, we must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean,” the (text) message read.
It was reported that “Malaysia Airlines Families Fainted, cried and screamed over the news”. Would the result have been the same had the message been verbally communicated? Probably, but the leaders would have appeared a lot more considerate.
As the old adage suggests, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. In this age of digital communication, it is still necessary for leaders to understand the context of what is being said before selecting the mode of communication. Using text message to communicate tragic death announcement after a long period of waiting, anxiety and mental anguish can appear inconsiderate.
No doubt the leaders of the missing aircraft were themselves tired and anxious, and wanted to bring comfort and closure to tired, anxious and grieving relatives. Speed did the job (by text), but in this case speed was like putting a cold turkey into the microwave and pressing “a minute express cook”… it doesn’t work. Grieving family members want empathy. They want to know that in spite of it all leaders care and are doing their best.
Organizational leaders, let’s take this as a learning and practice effective communication. Select the right method because as the old adage says… it’s not what you say, but how you say it.
Now its your turn. Do you believe that the method of communication was appropriate? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.
I snuck away at the start of this year to a Cool place in DC to finish my Doctoral studies, and am thrilled to say that by mid-year…I did it!! But nothing I did compared with the greatest challenge I embraced when I faced my fears and jumped 12,000 ft. from a small aircraft in a tandem skydive!!! Yikes!! View it here http://youtu.be/KbaFsgRZJC0. It was the most exhilarating experience! Amidst a feeling of fear, and the desire to accomplish a planned feat, I embraced the challenge. It affirmed to me that we can do great things when we put our minds to it. Even when we’re afraid, we can do it with God’s divine help. So, what’s holding you back from achieving your dreams, your goals, and your desires? Make a decision today. Do what’s laid on your heart. Put your plans in place. Don’t worry about the resources because once you put the ‘key in the ignition’ everything else will fall into place.
Here are a few simplified tips adapted from the tried and proven PDCA problem-solving approach to get you started.
Plan. Nothing happens without a plan. So take some time out and reflect on what your problems or procrastinations are and what you would like to achieve. The New Year is a good time to start.
Do. Think about ways to solve. What can you do to accomplish your goals and aspirations? “Do” here means ‘try” or “test”. Whatever you do, think about ways that you can use to get to your dreams, then select a path and start the ignition.
Check. At regular intervals, check to make sure your plan is working. Let’s say for example you had decided on a career change. What are the things you need to put in place to accomplish this change? If it is to get a better job, define what a ‘better job’ looks like. Do you have the necessary skills to accomplish this goal? If not, can you acquire it through training? Do you even like the job you’re looking at or are you considering it because it pays more? Whatever you do, make sure it’s realistic.
Act. Finally, select and implement your plan. Review and repeat the steps at intervals to make sure you’re on track.
So, make a decision today. Put your plans in place and Remember, you can do it if you really want!! Best wishes for the New Year, and beyond.
A Hero. An Icon. A Shining Star has left his mark.
Extraordinary, inspiring, humble, courageous, determined, influential, a forceful presence, a true giant. These are just a few of the words used to describe Nelson Mandela by the likes of President Barack Obama, Prince William, Morgan Freeman, Idris Elba, and countless others.
“We have lost one of the greatest human beings to have walked this earth”, said Idris Elba after the VIP premier of the film “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”, attended by Prince William and Kate in London. The news shocked the VIP audience at the end of the premier.
Morgan Freeman, in his reflection asked how many of us would have survived prison yet after release accomplish what he did? How many of us could have sworn off vengeance and preached reconciliation? How many of us could have turned the final chapters of our own life into a new beginning for our nation’s people? Morgan freeman reflected that Mandela dedicated his life to freeing a nation and ended up freeing the world.
Indeed Nelson Mandela was a patriarch of persistence, humility, resilience and a supreme example of a leader extraordinaire. Madiba (as his friends called him), has gone to rest. He will forever remain in our hearts.
The nerve! How could she? But her question stayed with me for years
I’ll never forget the sight. Standing in line more than a decade ago with hundreds of graduates awaiting the march into the ceremony, I saw my mom and dad walking in together a little late. She, with a basket of fruits too heavy for her to bear, but far too precious not to. Him, adorned in a bright red jacket as if to say “nobody is going to make me miss this special occasion when my daughter receives her Masters degree!” I must Confess
that I thought to myself…should I acknowledge them or should I shy away from this somewhat humorous sight? I dismissed the very thought and rushed to their side hugging them both. My action was met with admiration, claps, and with sounds of “awww”, as the waiting graduates stirred. Needless to say that this achievement was for both my parents as neither had college degrees. After the ceremony, my mom hugged and congratulated me with the question “when are you going to get the Doctorate?” The nerve! How could she? But her question stayed with me for years, even after the receipt of yet another Masters degree.
Years later, I finally succumbed to fulfilling her dream. She couldn’t do it so I decided to do it for her. A year into the program whilst en route to a mandated summer conference in Orlando, I received a call that she (with whom I spoke an hour earlier), had suffered a massive stroke!
That was the start of a year-long journey to be by her side through thick and thin. Ironically both our journeys were paths of learning. Hers being to learn to talk, to walk, to eat, to do life’s simple things, and to learn the basics of living all over again. Me, to face the reality of the situation that my mother was in, and to learn the skills to adequately provide her care. Along with my two sisters (one ailing with the ravages of cancer …now passed), we brought her to live closer so we could adequately care for her return to ‘normalcy’.
As I reflect on my Dissertation journey, on one occasion I remember receiving an important call from a professor while attending to her needs. I answered the call, got the coaching from the professor then returned to finish her care. This became a routine.
I remember being by her side at the hospital for hours, days, and weeks. She was my morning motivation. I couldn’t start the day without her knowing that I cared. It was the same at nights. I couldn’t end the day without visiting her, without her knowing that I was there for her. At work, the leaders knew that if they wanted my best then I needed an hour to be with my mom which was the fuel for the rest of my day. I happily worked that back during lunch or after hours. This went on for a year but sadly she never recovered. We later discovered that her body was wreaked with cancer unknown to our family. It was too much for her to bear.
After she passed this was my driving force. I had to finish my studies for her. I had to accomplish her dream, something she couldn’t do herself. I had to finish to show my two girls that you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to. I had to finish and leave something tangible behind. This culminated in my research that tracked the paths of immigrant leaders and their journey to success to achieve the American Dream. I accomplished that feat two years after she passed away.
My mom was someone who wanted and accomplished much, even after she had gone. She remains my motivation. Today I salute her. Today she receives my standing Ovation!
As you reflect, is there anyone that has influenced your life? Do share, we would love to hear!
Its simple. Leadership style reflects a characteristic mode of action or manner of acting. Consider the leadership style of Presidents Obama, Bush (both father & son… two very different styles), Oprah, Donald Trump, Mother Teresa and Dwayne Wade.
Now consider yours. What is your leadership style?