Monday, February 10, 2014

The Internet Again

Sometimes I just have to ask myself if I should just unsubscribe from all this email crap I get from people. And then I realize, "This is how I get triggered and have an opportunity to learn about myself.

Today it's leadership. Not that this is a new topic, but it's one I may have struggled with the most. I got an invite from Harvard Business Review to send them $199 and in return they would send me a carload of what they referred to as "must Read" articles on the usual subjects, including leadership. But the others are all related. If you're interested I'm sure you can find it easily enough, but I've already given them too much ink.

I also got an email telling me all I needed to do to become a better leader was to read their book which culls out the characteristics embodied by Churchill, Lincoln and several others. My first reaction was, "Those guys were completely different!" I don't deny they were certainly accomplished, and turned out to be real important men of their times, but other than being committed to their own ideas and persistent in their pursuit I find little similarity.

They also acted decisively and consistently. Kinda like Hitler or Stalin or the Pharaohs of Egypt. How about Henry VIII? It seems the qualities of leadership have little to do with the quality of the result. There must be another way to assess what I think leadership is. Yes, me, Bill Flynn. I get to decide.

Why? To quote my late father, "Who died and left you boss?"

I could say it was him, but I can't imagine leadership in any other way than embodied by the person I would follow. A very complicated yet wise woman said to me once, that it is easy to spot a leader. Just look at the person with people following them. As usual, wisdom lies in the obvious. This leads me to think I know what it takes to be a leader. Who am I following?

As I tried to see who I was following, one surprising thing came up. I am following different people at different times and in different situations. Maybe a leader isn't always a leader. Maybe they sometimes follow. Maybe it isn't about a title or a job. Maybe it has more to do with just who the person is and how they show up.

Over time I occasionally looked at the things I have relied on to make decisions. Sometimes I trusted my gut, but not very often. I have exhausted myself with research in the various ways of finding out what to do. I have most often tried to look at others who are doing what I want or who have what I think I need. Then I work at doing what they are doing. I try to become them if you will.

Bad strategy. You know the reasons. That job is already taken. I can't be them, I need to be me. But I can't seem to work that out because I don't trust myself. What if that's exactly my problem? What if I actually looked at what I think might work and tried it? Either way I'm likely to learn something. If what I try works, I learn I am capable and on the right track. If what I try fails, I have new information and the opportunity to use it to find an alternative.

Likewise in a group. We'll move from here next. C'mon back.