Leading: Out of The Forest

I spent a couple days near the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest this past weekend, trying to enjoy what remains of a summer that has once again passed by all too quickly. For me, there is nothing like a morning walk through the quite serene beauty we refer to as nature.

As I trek through the forest, I frequently imagine the journey of Louis and Clark. I picture myself wandering day after day through the trees, which from eye-height, all appear generally the same. I’m sure they all have unique names; oak, maple, sumac and ash. Many even have unique characteristics, like my favorite – the white birch, with its paper-like bark. But up close, in the midst of hundreds, no thousands of trees, they all become one – they all meld together into one forest.

Are we different?

TreesI wonder if people are like trees? We each have our unique identifying characteristics; our name, the features of our face, height, skin and hair color. But when we are seen in the conference room, or in the office, or in the hallway – is there anything that sets us apart from one another? What do we do that distinguishes us, as leaders, from one another?

Each of us can be a leader, in spite of what we may do for a living. And while some leadership positions may require a certain skill set, there are also a number of traits critical to effective leadership that everyone may exude.

Three keys

First, effective leaders are passionate about what they do. They understand what drives them and are committed to achieving their goals. Despite changing times, effective leaders stay true to their passion.

Effective leaders have a vision. They articulate the goals about which they are passionate, and clearly communicate their passion and vision to others.

Finally, the foundation trait of an effective leader: integrity. Effective leaders are true to themselves and to the direction they have established. Effective leaders demonstrate integrity in all actions every day, not because it looks good to others, but because it is the right thing to do.

“We feel let down by integrity lapses in leaders because we expect so much of them: we want them to improve the fundamental quality of our lives.”

What sets you apart?

If I stand back and look at the forest, I can typically pick out the one tree that has grown taller than the others. Or I spot the one tree that has started changing its colors a little earlier, and it stands out amid all of the others.

What do we, as leaders, do that helps us stand out amid all of the other leaders around us? Do we stay true to our vision and authenticity – remaining true to ourselves? Do we face each day with the same passion because we know what we are doing is the right thing? Do we hold our heads up a little higher, with our integrity firmly intact?

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Daron Sandbergh is Manager, QA/RA Training at GE Healthcare
He can be reached at Daron.Sandbergh@ge.com

Image Source: .fs.fed.us

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