Monday, March 21, 2011

Are You a 9 - 5 Leader? I Hope Not

So you're back in the office, ready for another action-packed week.  Lots of changes happening all around you, people issues to deal with and lots of interventions all lie ahead.  You'll be asked to step up repeatedly this week to deal with inappropriate behavior, and to set a good example for those around you.  At the end of the day you'll head out of the office...and then what?

It Takes Courage

We know what courage means in most contexts: military courage, leadership on-the-job courage, even Wizard of Oz courage.  But what about the courage leaders must demonstrate when they're away from the job, or the action, or the movies? What about the courage necessary when the only person who'll know whether it was shown or not is you?  That's real courage.  The kind I wish I had started showing earlier in life.

"Friends" v. Values = Test of Courage

Many years ago I had some friends who were raised in families that were insensitive to minorities.  In fact, they occasionally made racist comments.  They tried to be good people generally, but the influence of their upbringing spilled over into the language they used in their adult lives.  And I struggled hearing it.  I struggled knowing that what they were saying bothered me, but I was trying to preserve my friendship with them, so I simply remained silent.

Until I couldn't take it anymore.  So on two separate visits with these friends I made the decision to confront them if they used the offensive language.  Those were the last two times we were together.  I'm not anything special because I held them accountable for the words they used, but I did realize that I could no longer be a 9 -5 leader.  I was on a different path;  one that required me to step out of my comfort zone and do what is right.

It's hard for me to do this on a regular basis, but I have no other choice.  I have no excuse to defer my leadership privilege.

Clean Hands Do Not Equal A Clean Conscience

Are you a leader that washes your hands of the job once you leave for the day?  Are you able to distance yourself so that the "real you" can come out once you leave the facade of your professional life?  Or, have you accepted your true path; your leadership path, that doesn't know how to tell time, or recognize if you've moved from one location to the next.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pics courtesy of Gone Movies and Ordinary Pastor


  1. Great post. I'm turning this one on it's head and looking at it from another perspective.

    Over the course of my working life I have ended up working for certain employers whose values did not meet my own. I now actively seek out employers who have similar values to mine when seeking work and would no longer sacrifice these in order to gain employment. This makes my life easier in that I can carry my 'leading by example' head around with me at all times and in theory I can switch between my work and personal life without too much thinking about it. However, I can be very direct (not offensive) and this in itself has the potential to get me into trouble. I can see why you found this difficult and I'd like to say that in your situation I'd have acted differently. One can never be sure unless in an identical predicament!

  2. I try diligently to be the same person, every day no matter where I am at, or who I am with. One needs to exhibit consistency if you wish to be taken seriously as a professional. Sometimea the easy thing is to "bail out" or duck, but it's not the right thing. And if you don't always do the right thing it will show through sooner or later - mayube even on video on Youtube.

  3. Emma - thanks for the comment. There is no doubt that corporate culture can push us into awkward situations that we would not normal condone in our personal lives. That is one of the reasons I like this issue so much. Lots of angles and perspectives!

    Dave - I totally agree...consistency is so important. I once worked for a CEO who was so unpredictable that the Senior Managers would check in with each other to see what type of mood he was in each day. Not good!