Real Leadership Ain't About Easy
When I say Leadership - capital L intended - I mean taking the initiative, speaking your position or vision, and empowering more leaders to rise up in the wake of their interactions with you.
Not waiting to see what everyone else does.
Going first, even if you're not feeling ready. Especially if you're not feeling ready.
Not sitting on your truth, then hedging it until it becomes meaningless.
Speaking it from the intent with which you feel it and know it.
Not holding back until a situation is untenable, then having some surface conversations to clean up the mess.
Addressing the situation at hand when it arises, having the conversations you might not want to have because they're uncomfortable.
Not waiting to act until you're sure you'll get it right.
Knowing you might well get it wrong, acting anyway, and fucking it up with an open heart.
The other night, I was in conversation with an executive leader who wasn't sure if it was "the right time" to be promoting her company, in light of the social unrest in America.
Is it insensitive? Selfish? Counterproductive?
Will there be a backlash? Will it be loud or silent?
No one knows.
That's life in the arena.
When you're in the arena, you're playing the game, and none of us get to pick and choose the parts of the game we want to play and the parts we don't. There are parts of the game we don't even know exist until we encounter them.
This is when real Leadership happens.
See, real Leadership isn't when you hem and haw about whether you'll get raked over the coals for what you do. Frankly, in 2020, if you're out in the public eye enough, someone will rake you over the coals, deserved or not.
It's not when your commitment sounds like "We're going to do this, but only if we're sure everything will be okay." That's leadership. Lowercase L. Average, and in the game of Leadership, average is way below average.
The commitment of real Leadership goes something like, "This is our choice. Our commitment is to do right by ourselves and by the communities we serve. If we make a mess through this choice, we'll clean it up and do better next time. NO MATTER WHAT."
No Matter What.
That's Real Leadership.