Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bigger Than [Corporate] Life

One of the exercises I love using when speaking to groups about the impact of good leadership is quite simple. I ask them to close their eyes, and visualize the person they feel was the most effective leader they had ever worked with in any capacity. The group invariably identifies “their” person almost immediately. Next we talk about the characteristics these special people demonstrated to attain such lofty status. Lastly, and my favorite part, is when I ask if in a few years another group of new leaders were being asked the same question, would the attendees have made a similar impression and be “the one?”
Good stuff, right? The obvious challenge to the group is basically – “What are you waiting for? Be the leader you should be right now!”

And Then They Leave
But what happens when Wonder-Manager transitions out of the organization? I’m not talking about succession planning; I mean how does the organization fill the personality void? How do those left behind maintain the energy, focus, and most importantly – results – in the absence of such an impactful person?

Lay the Culture Foundation
The easy answer is to create a culture ahead of time so everyone is fully engaged, committed, supportive, blah, blah, blah. How many companies do you know that have all of their employees on board with every strategy all the time? I don’t know any either. So is this an unsolvable dilemma? The answer is not what you may think.

Why in the world would anyone want to preserve the status quo? Yes, a charismatic leader moving on is difficult, but it also opens up new opportunities that most aren’t even thinking about. Those left behind are initially, appropriately so, processing through the change. But holding on to “the good ‘ol days” even if they were yesterday, means you’ve stopped moving forward.

How About You
What happens when a sudden void opens up in your organization? Do you wring your hands; or, get fired up about the changes heading your way? Your reaction is being watched by so many…don’t waste the opportunity to show why you should be the one who’s name comes to mind in the next leadership session.

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pics courtesy of listverse and doka


  1. Great exercise. This is a great reminder that we are rarely "off the record". Love the encouragement to take time to view ourselves as others see us, and from a future point of view, when it can be more natural to self-reflect.

    1. Thanks Lori...it's been a great tool for me and always leaves people with that "a-ha" look on their face.