I'm a student of history, particularly leaders in history. One of my favorites is a man named Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He is famous for his opposition to the tyranny of the Nazis during the 1930s and 1940s. Hitler ultimately had him murdered just days before the end of the war.
Dietrich was the ultimate courageous leader.
Corporate Life Today
Fortunately the world is not consumed in a conflict the size and scale of a World War. But sadly, the leaders of today are no match to those courageous leaders either.
Consider this...how many leaders out there are quick to espouse their philosophy on leadership and make sure everyone hears it? It's as if simply talking about it means they are an effective, even idyllic leader. The reality is however that those words mean absolutely nothing if the leader is unwilling to stand tall when the pressure is on.
Do you know leaders who say one thing, but when the pressure builds, instead of making decisions that command respect they quickly cave into political pressure to sidestep their responsibility to lead?
I've seen it all too often, and candidly it is so obvious to everyone watching that the "leader" with all of their fancy philosophies is actually mocked as a fool.
You're A Leader...Now Act Like One
Executives have a particular responsibility when it comes to leadership. The burden to make the right decisions for the organizations they serve is enormous. (It is important to remember that they serve the organization...they are not the company.) Executives often live in a sheltered world that is less connected to how the operations of an organization in the rapidly changing world are executed.
Those leaders must not get caught in the trap that their "gut instinct" or outdated "personal preferences" dictate policy. Data, an awareness of current market trends, and demonstrated results should drive decision making.
If you have leaders on your team that "just feel strongly" about strategies that have absolutely no basis in data or results, then you have a dangerous and out of touch liability on your team.
How About You
Do you consider yourself a courageous leader? Really? When was the last time you stood up for someone or something when the treacherous political conditions inside your company put you at risk?
I didn't think you could remember when you did. Maybe it's time to stop talking about leadership and do what is right for a change.
I'd love to hear from you.