“How do you spot a leader? They come in all ages, shapes, sizes, and conditions. Some are poor administrators, some are not overly bright. One clue: since most people per se are mediocre, the true leader can be recognized because, somehow or other, his people consistently turn in superior performances.”
From “Up the Organization,” by Robert Townsend
In what ways does this quote resonate with you?
Recently, two Armstrongs were in the news. Lance Armstrong, of the tour de France fame, decided against continuing fighting doping charges. Neil Armstrong, the first man to step onto the moon, passed away quietly. While neither ran any organization, both were considered leaders of something. One grabbed the spotlight, both willingly and unwillingly. The other shied away from the spotlight at all times. One inspired others to exercise determination and enhance physical mastery and the other steadfastly helped others build the prowess in science and engineering. One is a charismatic leader and the other is a quiet level-5 leader. Actually, by definition, level-5 leaders do not seek to lead any body of people; they just quietly, methodically and determinedly build something or solve some problems.
American is an action-oriented culture; doing something is always deemed better than doing nothing. So, every new manager has to do something, or change something. Regardless! Is there something wrong with “doing little or nothing” for certain times and contexts?
There was a good reason for assembly-line workers, burger flippers, or shop mechanics to have breaks throughout the day…though probably not enough. But white collar (do we still use this term?!) professionals don’t seem to even take a lunch break very often…unless you are in the high ranking positions, and then, a lot of those lunches would probably give you heartburn, not from food, but from the stressful conversations.
We don’t take enough time to stop, to be still, to think and reflect. As a painter, if I don’t step back and examine what I have just done, I can mess up my painting quickly. Those who do detailed paintings or a large piece of creative rendition need to step back even more frequently.
I advise people at work to take a ½ hour walk, rest and listen to some music for a while, read something light for 15 minutes, or engage in whatever takes one’s gaze off the task at hand. I am not concerned for just the individuals; I am equally concerned, if not more, for those around such individuals — especially if they occupy a management seat.
Do you have examples of gaining a fresh perspective after a brief rest or an insight while daydreaming? And when was the last time you followed your own example?
Happy Labor Day! Till next week,
Staying Sane and Charging Ahead.
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