I spent the last month considering all that is going on around us; the impact that this multitude of events, as reported in social networking, television, newspapers and magazines, has on our thinking and our emotions as individuals. Every day we are bombarded by a continuing flow of “bad news,” whether it’s another terrorist attack in Pakistan or Afghanistan, an announcement about a major employee layoff due to market conditions, or the hyperbole associated with the election of the first Muslim Mayor in London, Sadiq Khan. The world feels like it is spinning faster and faster, and headed towards some kind of chaos. I have made reference before to General Stanley McChrystal’s insightful book, Team of Teams, and McChrystal’s hypothesis that the world has changed and moved into a highly complex “DNA.” To effectively cope with these changes requires a change in how we think about organizations and the values and behaviors that shape their cultures.
I believe we must go back to the core basics of effective leadership. Leadership at its heart remains consistent in terms of what makes up, enhances, reinforces and contributes to an individual being a successful leader. When we study individuals whose lives have been exemplars for successful leadership, we see a consistent set of values and behaviors, empowering these individuals to gain the trust, respect and willingness to follow them, which is at the heart of their ability to influence others.
Step back and think about your own personal experiences. When you have been most successful and impactful in what you’re seeking to achieve or accomplish, why were you effective? I believe it is true that knowledge and experience are key components in helping an individual become successful. Consider this quote from Harry S. Truman, “All readers may not be leaders, but all leaders are readers.” I think intellectual curiosity is an important part of what makes a person a leader. You know from your own experience with me that I believe our values and our matching behaviors are critical in enabling us to maximize the application of our wisdom. Truth, integrity, honesty, caring, compassion, openness and respect are powerful and compelling values that we live through our behaviors. They become the true DNA of our personal leadership and success. You cannot fake these values. You have them and live by them, or you don’t. The world at large, as foolish as it may seem to be based on headlines and twitter posts, knows when a person is real or not.
Our challenge today is adapting our way of thinking to be flexible and able to cope with rapid change that is not going to slow down. As the journalist, Harrison Salisbury, said about the lesson he’d learned from a life in journalism, “Expect the unexpected.” We don’t know what’s coming in the rest of 2016, or 2017, be it in the global political arena, economy, or power politics. What we do know is we can be ourselves, and in being ourselves, become role models for excellence. The world is desperate for leadership. This is your time to step up and become a man or woman of action by “Living your Values.”
I would like you to share your experiences and ideas with me. I am asking for your input, help and advice on how we go about creating a forum for developing leadership throughout the fabric of our national consciousness and the rapidly shrinking world in which we live.
It is time for each of us to step up and hold ourselves accountable for making a difference in our world and the lives of those around us.