Encapsulated in two short minutes of video, many of us this week saw contemporary examples of the very best and worst of leadership behavior. In Washington, DC, we saw two pompous United States senators hiding behind Christmas of all things, in a lame effort to avoid debating and voting on important legislative matters, including a vital strategic arms reduction treaty. At approximately the same time, 900 miles away in Panama City, FL, two Bay District School Board members held off a deranged gunmen who was seemingly intent on killing them.
One can’t help but be struck by the example of School Board Superintendent, Bill Husfelt, who, despite having a 9mm pistol pointed at him, calmly but decisively told the gunman to let the other school board members leave, since he (not they) was responsible for any beef the man had with the board. Then, having been excused from the room, board member, Ginger Littleton sneaked back in and attempted to disarm the gunman, armed only with, get this… her purse. I can only imagine what the two beltway bozos would have said and done were the roles reversed.
The leadership lesson for the rest of us: Leaders don’t whine, and they certainly don’t hide behind other people or things when faced with the more difficult aspects of their responsibility. They stand and deliver, not because they are unafraid, but because they know it is the right thing to do. Those of us who have similarly accepted the mantle of leadership encounter our own moments of truth when we:
- Are expected to announce and implement an unpopular policy
- Are faced with telling someone the truth about their job performance
- Must tell an old friend that they either need to change or leave
- Need to stick up for someone who is being abused or mistreated, and, to be sure,
- Own up to our own mistakes
When faced with such moments, we could do worse than follow the example set by the folks from the school board. That’s my $.02 worth. As always, your comments are welcome.
A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows