There are times we, as leaders, need to sit back and be led by allowing others to lead.
The other day I had a meeting with a placement agency. Both the young men seemed professional and knowledgeable, yet the first thing I thought of was that I probably had more skills, experiences, and knowledge than both of them put together.
However, in this situation I was not in control and needed to be led.
Needing to be led is new
Needing to be led is a new thing for me.
It has probably happened to me many times, but in my new role as not having a full-time job, I am noticing it more. And it feels a bit strange and yet comforting. It is nice to be able to run my dominant nature off for time to time so I can recharge it for later.
I will admit that it is also uncomfortable because I am not at the head of the line leading myself to greater employment. I (as wonderfully highly skilled and educated as those young men told me I was) am in need of help navigating the employment jungle.
I will admit that I have not turned my future employment possibilities completely over to them. I am still networking, following my own leads, and sending out resumes. I have to. It is nice having an ally, but the leader in me wants to lead me. And I think that is healthy and productive.
After all, it is my life we are talking about.
Rely on your own strength of body and soul. Take for your star self-reliance, faith, honesty and industry. Don’t take too much advice — keep at the helm and steer your own ship, and remember that the great art of commanding is to take a fair share of the work. Fire above the mark you intend to hit. Energy, invincible determination with the right motive, are the levers that move the world. ~Noah Porter
Being led is not a bad thing. In fact it humbled me by reminding me that there is no way I can know everything or everyone and protocols often change without warning.
A true leader adapts and relinquishes command for the betterment of the cause.
The cause at the placement agency was me.
He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander. ~Aristotle
Leadership is not only important when you hold the title, but it is incredibly crucial when that title is no longer yours, when you get fired and have to do something new.
While from time to time we all dream about being free to pursue other opportunities, I do not think anyone really dreams about being fired. Severance packages aside, there is a certain amount of ego involved.
I hated my job.
I had allowed it to suck the life out of me.
I allowed it to take over my life making me completely miserable.
I continued to work hard making myself an invaluable employee. Or at least that’s what I thought.
Anyway, there are two sides to every story, and I found myself walking out of the door never to return. And while I will admit that leaving on my own terms was my preferred exit strategy, God often decides that something more drastic is required.
The truth is that I stayed much too long where I was. I referred to my job as ‘it pays the bills’. Not a ringing endorsement for the place where I spent most of my waking hours. Everything happens for a reason, doesn’t it? I needed to go.
Time for me to lead somewhere new
Now is when I am so happy that I’m a leader. Notice that I did not use past tense.
I firmly believe that leadership traits do not disappear when situations change only the method in which they are delivered is different.
I am still a leader. I still have the skills to prioritize, analyze, strategize, and motivate. Only for right now I need to use those skills on myself. I need to remain focused, remain positive and refuse to allow myself to feel sorry for myself. And above all else, do not panic. I still have a dissertation to write.
Lee Childs said it best:
It’s about opportunity… you’ve learned a few things.
You’ve got skills and work habits.
You’re in charge. But try something. Anything.
Sit back, take a breath, believe in yourself, identify your dream, and go for it 110%.
Trust me, your motivation will never be as strong.
And the chance might never come your way again.
At the moment, I have not entered into another employment opportunity, but I know what it is that I do not want. I am convinced that my leadership abilities will serve me well in whatever comes next.
And for now, I am doing some of those things that I wish I had the time to do before.
Today’s guest post is from Doretha Walker, Ph.D, past president of the Charleston, SC Center for Women, blogger, and professor. Having just done through some major life changes, Doretha shares some candid and touching insights.
Today’s guest post is by Doretha Walker. Doretha is a former president of the Charleston, SC Center for Women Board of Directors, runs marathons, is a professor, and blogs at Wecanflyhigher.blogspot.com. Doretha provides inspiration and information to support women so they can fly to their own success.
I did myself a grave injustice the other day at the Charleston, SC Women in Business Conference, Pathways to Power.
First, let me say that I hate speed networking. So when it was time to do it, I allowed myself 36 seconds of my allotted two-minute time.
Okay, I didn’t want to be there so I didn’t fully participate.
It wasn’t that I didn’t have two minutes worth of merits. I mean, in my current position, I lead a locomotive crew. Plus, I established a foundation that helps women fund their dreams. I’ve met Oprah. And I promise you it takes longer than 36 seconds to read my resume.
What was I thinking???
There is a saying that you may be the only Bible (or holy book) that someone will read today. Well, your two minute speed networking speech may be the only resume someone will read today. I gave myself 36 seconds of airplay. So why should I expect anyone at my networking table to think I was worthy of more? They may have wondered why I was even at the table.
I missed a multitude of opportunities. I earned my journey and I have a right, no, I have an obligation to share it. It may inspire someone else.
Hoda Kotb wrote in her book that a man sitting next to her on a plane said something like don’t hog your journey. It isn’t meant just for you. In other words, many need to see where you are going and understand how to get there so they may do the same.
I think Marianne Williamson said it beautifully “…as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people the permission to do the same.”
Isn’t that what we as leaders strive to do – inspire, encourage, and uplift while accomplishing the mission?
Women getting in their own way
Not only did I miss the chance to inspire, I lost the chance to have a door opened to something had someone been looking for what I had to offer. But I offered nothing while I had plenty to offer.
I think this is called self-sabotage.
As leaders, we have earned our stripes and some of us have the battle scars to prove it. Our accomplishments are what brought us to the table and to the position of leader.
Understand that telling others how we arrived at our present destination is not bragging. It is simply charting the milestones that paved the way to our successes. It is our road map. That map may be traditional or it might be a bit scenic, but it is ours. It is ours to share. It is ours to be proud of.
So remember, people need to know why you are at the table or why you are the leader. You are there for a reason; and if you don’t believe that, why should anyone else? Do not follow my lead and short change yourself.
Share your journey.
You are worth at least two minutes of airplay.
And you can bet that I will be fully present and accounted for during my next speed networking session.
Today’s guest post is by Doretha Walker, professor and former president of the Charleston, SC Center for Women. Always the over-achiever, Doretha ran her first marathon at age 45 and is working on her Ph.D. She blogs at Wecanflyhigher. The inspiration for her blog name was a fact shared by a friend that only 14 African-American women flew commercial airplanes. Doretha provides inspiration, information and other links to topics to assist women in flying to their own success.
I learned that while it was encouraged to delegate authority (we even had Delegation of Authority cards) I knew that I could not delegate responsibility. I was completely responsible for what my unit did or failed to do.
It is called accountability.
I was accountable for my platoon and later my company. I should not blame others. I should investigate and implement processes and procedures to ensure that any failures should not happen again and learn the lessons.
Personal accountability is crucial for the success of any leader, yet is it surprising when we actually see it.
Michael McCain of the Toronto based Maple Leaf Foods Company displayed it when the company’s hotdogs were involved in a major outbreak of food borne illness that caused 12 confirmed deaths and made many others seriously ill.
He stood up publicly and stated,
Certainly knowing that there is a desire to assign blame, I want to reiterate that the buck stops right here… our best efforts failed, not the regulators or the Canadian food safety system… I emphasize: this is our accountability and it’s ours to fix, which we are taking on fully.
McCain immediately took responsibility and did not play the victim.
While I am sure that there was an in-depth investigation and that some people may have lost their jobs, that topic was not discussed in a public forum. McCain–as the leader–took the brunt of the fallout.
On the other side of the personal accountability coin is taking things personally.
Taking things personally is not the same thing as personal accountability. Although you should feel accountable for your department, it is not your fault if an employee violates a procedure or fails a task unless you were right there encouraging him/her or if you gave the directive for the violation.
If a process fails, yes you are accountable, but do not take it personally because it is not really about you.
It is about the thing that failed. Perhaps, in hindsight, there are things you could have done differently, but regardless, do not take it personally.
No matter whom you are or what you do, one thing is certain: criticism is inevitable. There will always be someone who doesn’t like your work or the way you do business. ~Katie Skow
Take it in stride, glean the lessons within the message, and apply them as necessary.
The best time to apply this is when you lose your job. It is difficult to understand that it is a business decision (consult your labor board if you think differently).
During this time, not taking it personally is not an easy thing to do, but by focusing your energies elsewhere you will get a sense of satisfaction especially when you find that better job.