February 17, 2012 at 6:12 pm #153542
You may have been there. Something just happened that spun your head around. You weren’t expecting that! Suddenly, all eyes are on you and you have to decide which way you and your team are going to go. You look around. There’s no one else to turn to. You’re it.
When you’re in a leadership position, there isn’t always a clear path ahead. You will sometimes lose your bearings. You need a way to navigate.
Fortunately, there are a few ways to keep yourself on course. Which ones you choose depends on personal preference and the situation you’re in.
Books. You can read books. These are great ways to gain insight into the minds of people who have come before you. Books give you vocabulary for things you may be aware of, but may not have developed labels for yet. They expose you to different methods for dealing with situations. They help you understand that you’re not alone. Other people have been where you are today (and where you may be tomorrow). Books are also great for revealing landmarks and milestones. Knowing where you are relative to those landmarks gives you some idea of where you are.
- The downside to books is that they are static. They represent one person or group of people’s perspective and are locked on the timeline when they were written. Since the world changes, books can sometimes get out of date. Like paper maps, books can sometimes lead you to a place you don’t want to be if they are out of date and you follow them blindly.
- Books also require advanced planning to use. A great book is useless to you unless you’ve read it.
People around you. Leadership isn’t a dictatorship. People around you can provide valuable insights and feedback – not only about where and who you are, but about where they want or need to go. Many minds and shared vision can be very powerful. Consulting with people around you has an added advantage of helping you gain buy in, allies, and possibly build enthusiasm. At the end of the day, many hands make light work.
- Just be aware that group dynamics can also produce slow decisions, watered down or weak decisions, and/or accountability issues. It’s important to weigh the input from other people with input from other sources. Having a group consensus does not relieve a leader of responsibility.
Your Moral Compass. Knowing who you are, what you stand for, and what you find acceptable is critical to solid leadership. Finding, setting, and keeping your moral compass calibrated is an ongoing process. It involves self discovery, healthy criticism (from yourself and others), and alignment to ideals you believe are important. Mentors, family, friends, social groups, journaling, personal experience,, healthy living, and education can all play a role in helping you set and calibrate your moral compass. With careful attention, leaders will dial in their spirituality, family values, empathy, courage, openness, integrity, honesty, and compassion. Over time and with age, leaders will make adjustments to their compass and use it to navigate unfamiliar territories. This is one of the most important instruments a leader has, and it requires care.
- The downside is a moral compass can be easily neglected & allowed to drift. Since we live with it 24×7, we sometimes take it for granted. In reality, the world acts on our compass every day. Our pointers are always drifting left or right with each new experience.
- You may have met someone who’s allowed their moral compass to drift. They’re out of balance. The decisions they make can lead to bad things.
What other aids can you think of help leaders stay pointed in the right direction?
February 21, 2012 at 3:37 pm #153552
Those are three solid resources, Dave. Returning to your goals / objectives is another great way to stay centered – it forces you to ask, “why are we doing this?” and “what are we trying to achieve as a result of this course of action?”
February 21, 2012 at 7:01 pm #153550
I think we assume that people actually know how to reflect, know their values, and to be clear about their moral compass. My experience is that people are so caught up in the tactics of life that they don’t reflect. I think there are tools out there to help people reflect. One that I have started to use with people is the Values Technology Values Assessment. The company is in Santa Cruz and have developed great instrument to help a person explore their values and beliefs.
February 21, 2012 at 8:42 pm #153548
That’s a good point, Joseph. Can you post a link to the resource you mentioned?
February 21, 2012 at 8:45 pm #153546
Great point! Having goals written down does more than get you centered. It keeps you centered over time! Nice.
May 21, 2012 at 1:40 pm #153544
Joseph – can you post that Values Technology Values Assessment?
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