Leaders are faced with many decisions that often instill fear and indecision.
This can lead to them staying on a path just because it is there and seems safe while the alternatives seem fraught with uncertainty. When this occurs, here is my advice:
“When you come to the fork in the road, take it…”
Leadership Cross Roads
The executive leader today lives and works at the frontier of constant change and uncertainty. This is place where they are beset with fears and anxieties that we may not be solidly grounded in our actions in today’s crazy world.
As leaders, we work within organizations and people-systems that (though mostly unconsciously) do not want to change or face the facts of a continuously changing and less-forgiving business world. This is a place where denial and self-deception allows us to ignore or dismiss our awareness of what’s really going on for a more convenient process that operates on our opinions that “somehow what is wrong is not our fault.”
We then convert our opinions into what we call knowledge.
Then with this new knowledge of reality we can set up false truths when the complex, scary, risky and sticky organizational issues pop up.
Dead End Road
By operating with these ego protecting “truths,” we can easily smooth over, ignore and rationalize that something or someone else is failing us and preventing us, our organization, our people, etc. from getting what we say we really want out of our work and life.
On this Road of False Truths that we devoutly believe, our egos are safe so we tell ourselves we are doing all we can. Even though we get less of everything that we say we really want, it’s a safe and comfortable armor we’ve built for ourselves.
The Road of False Truths is intentionally taken so we can justify why we choose to avoid our responsibilities and stand by with only a little guilt as our company starts to decline. All the while we feel more than competent in how we are doing ourselves as leaders because we’re not responsible for what is going wrong. Are we?
Is it really harder to do things right than it is to do things wrong?
Are we really in the game to avoid responsibility through false truths and take more than we give, if we can?
A Job or Calling?
Most would agree that leadership is about being more so than doing. So with that, this begs the question:
Is leadership a job or a calling?
If we decide that it is our calling and obligation as leaders to live on this unpredictable frontier, we do not want to go back. We must take a path that requires courage. We must take an optimistic and hopeful point-of-view. When we do this, a new adventure presents itself in each new assignment.
What we stand for can no longer be compromised even when the complex, high risk, scary and sticky issues are right in front of us.
It is at this point that we learn that the ground in front of us is solid and can easily support us as we fully engage in our work. We have now reached the proverbial Fork in the Road ahead. This road is one intentionally less taken because it requires that we let go of our egocentric needs, our illusions of control and safety and security, our rationalizations that we are doing great jobs to help our companies and our people excel.
When we let go of fear and take that fork in the road, most often we are dedicating ourselves to the practice of conscious grow and excellence in our work and life.
A Road Less Traveled
The Road of Self Awareness
This Road of Awareness teaches us that the nobility of leadership is in confronting the sticky and difficult issues that we have avoided for so long.
Leadership is a path of sacrifice and service.
In choosing the path of leadership we embrace the good, the bad and the ugly of organizational life with gratitude. Most leaders want to do good, embrace positive values and put the organization’s need before their own. But it takes courage and the character to confront the system and ourselves in order to truly make a difference in a global sense.
That’s why we have so few true leaders at any one time in our companies. Only a few are able to speak to the internal (soft) issues with the same conviction that they speak to the hard (business) issues and make both areas matter at the same time.
True leaders who can take the road less traveled and speak to both the soft and hard issues are like beacons who show the way to the rest of us.
Like warriors, they are determined to fight to the end for their noble purpose. These are the fearless pioneers who are unwilling to accept an outcome where they “gain the world but lose their souls.”
So what are you going to do in your leadership role? Will you wake up and join those who live courageously, or live in your armor like a turtle? What’s your legacy going to be? Who are you, really? What are you going to do at your next fork in the road? I would love to hear your thoughts!
Image Sources: metronetiq.com
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