Thursday, January 24, 2008

My Views Of Leadership

Yesterday someone asked me if I liked listening to snowfall. One of the neat things about snowfall is that it's usually silent. Unless it's a big storm, and those are rare in my world, falling snow quietly and gently covers the barren landscape of winter and turns it into something beautiful. Spring has its flowers but winter has the beauty of snow. I know that some of you live in places where snowfall is common and perhaps tiresome and annoying. In my part of the world, snow, especially heavy snow, is rare and therefore magical. I still think one of life's best experiences is to be home on a snowy and wintry day, reading a good book and looking out the window. Anyone who reads my daily thoughts knows I am also a great lover of solitude. A good snowfall can keep most of us in our homes and provide us with some solitude that keeps the world at bay for a day or two. Snowfall is God's way of saying "Slow down"! I've never seen a snowfall that I didn't like.

A few weeks ago I lamented how I sometimes get tired of myself. I may have been too tough on myself. I like it that I am a sensitive and emotional person although, at times, it can be tiresome. I realize that this part of me is something I probably inherited from my father. He is a very emotional man. One of the best compliments that you can get in the workplace, especially if you are a leader, is that you are a "real" person. What does it mean to be a "real" person? In my mind it simply means being a human being, and human beings are emotional. Human beings, at their best, are loving and caring creatures. In the workplace, if you are a "real" person, you don't hide these traits. You use them to lead, to comfort, to encourage, to support, to forgive, and, only rarely, to scold. People are the most important asset in the workplace and our most important function is to build them up and not discourage them. Life on a good day is challenging. Why go out of your way to make it harder? Admittedly, people are messy. More than once I have declared how people wear me out. Loving and caring are not necessarily easy. Most of my life I have been a leader whether I wanted to be or not. In a previous daily thoughts I talked about the different kinds of leaders. Attila the Hun was a leader but so was Mahatma Gandhi. You can scare people into following you or you can be compassionate, loving, and caring. Who among us has not needed another's compassion at some point? When people know they are cared for, and not just treated like machines that do work, they will follow you anywhere. True leaders serve the people by first genuinely caring about their people. On this foundation of caring, we then give them direction, support them in their efforts, provide the tools they need, and acknowledge their accomplishments. Happy workers are productive workers, so let's get "real" people!

I saw a fascinating show on the History Channel last night. It was called "Life after People". Basically, it was about how and how long it would take the earth to reclaim itself if all people ceased to exist. In 1000 years all man made construction will have fallen down. In 10,000 years there would be virtually no recognizable signs of human existence. It kind of puts all of today's worries in perspective. I highly recommend this show.

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