For the love of leadership, why else? Leadership is one of those things that you know when you see it. More to the point, leadership is one of those things you know when you don’t see it. The absence of great leadership makes your heart grow fonder for it. Leadership gets generic and over-simplified. Seeing a headline that says something like “The one thing that Jeff Bezos does that made him amazingly successful” makes my eyes roll. It is way too simplified. Besides, my circumstances are very different from Jeff Bezos, as are yours (probably).
Can we learn from other leaders?
Absolutely. If you love leadership, then you would be reading more biographies and less superficial articles about one or two things to do. Agreed, sometimes those simple articles can supply a spark of inspiration. Too often, they lose their spark as soon as you close the browser. Maybe that is the love of better leadership – close your browser and open a biography!
Why do I write about leadership?
Good question. I am glad you asked. My early leadership experiences were observing small town leaders and farmers. Some may say that is simple leadership. I would say it was character-based. Those that exhibit patience in growth, faith in actions, and engagement in betterment are powerful leadership examples.
From here, my leadership experiences were in a college setting. As a student, we have a clean slate and a leadership lab in which to experiment. Any college student who is not taking on a leadership role on campus is missing an opportunity to discover, learn, and become a better person.
During my undergraduate experience, I ran for the student church council (we were a Lutheran-based university) and won, and I ran for student body president and lost. I led one of the college political party organizations. Through each experience, I tried new tactics, a few surprises, and embraced new approaches. Some were successful, and others were not. That is the point — what better place to experiment with leading than in college.
After graduation, I worked in a U.S. House political campaign. We lost, and we should have. The candidate that I worked for was scary, but not as scary as some are now. After our loss, I was fortunate to work for one of the U.S. Senators from South Dakota, who was a wonderful example of humility and service.
How you did what you did matters.Tweet
From Washington, DC, to Austin, Texas, I returned to education, receiving my MBA. I took my earlier college experience and got involved in volunteering and joining a quality consortia initiative between the business and engineering schools and the local business community. I expanded my leadership capacity, but as important, I expanded my business and critical thinking skills.
Experiences of collapses build a steeliness in pursuit and survival.
The next 20-plus years took me from enterprise software companies to startups to management consulting. Equal to the experience in each role was the understanding of what was happening in society. After graduation, the market and economy were decent but not great. In the late 1990s, the first internet boom happened, and I could not resist the temptation to jump in. Joining a company that was implementing a new business model was exhilarating and exhausting. Back then, it was the monthly subscription model for software called Application Service Provider. Today, it has matured to being Software-as-a-Service or cloud-based. What a ride that came crashing down. Working through the chaos of a market collapse, and near business one, built a steeliness in pursuit and survival.
Moving forward, I experienced one more collapse in 2008. I am no different than you. Either you experienced both, or you have heard about the breakdowns. The key point – you are not exempt. At some point, you will experience collapse, and probably more than once. How you respond, not react, will build leadership skill and character.
Today, I returned to college. Do you sense a theme? Yes, it is that the love of leadership translates into a love of learning. I am pursuing a doctorate in interdisciplinary leadership while starting a community initiative to explore the challenges and necessity of being a business leader activist.
Love of leadership is knowing the difference it makes.
My love of leadership is in knowing the difference it makes in my life and family. I also know the difference it makes in the lives of those who were a part of my teams and their families. Now, more than ever, I understand the difference it makes in my community and our society.
Depth needs to exist within leadership, and we have hollowed it. A short-term result has become more important than the future impact and the morality of what matters most. Winning at all costs has become the goal and mission, and we are losing the heart of leadership.
- If you love leadership, go philosophical.
- If you love leadership, go expansive.
- If you love leadership, character matters.
Philosophical is about learning from others, your experiences, and biographies. Putting it negatively, skip the superficial articles. If looking for a blip of inspiration, find a good quote from a worthy leader, writer, poet, or all-around good person. Go deeper. Dig into and develop your leadership philosophy.
Going expansive is about finding the right intersection between business and society. Society needs goodish business leaders, and business leaders need a better society. Nothing that is worthwhile fits neatly within a walled-in space.
Character matters. Your morality and ethics are what people will remember. How you did what you did matters. No shortcuts last the test of time. Do you want your tombstone to be “Chainsaw Al” or a “Left the World Better Lindsey”? Figure out how to be the latter.
So, I write about leadership because I want to be a better person.
Writing helps me think, consider, adapt, learn, and be better at what I do in business and life. I write because I like to share and learn from a larger community than just myself. We need leaders who love leadership for the right reasons. We need leaders who love leadership for the betterment of self, family, and society.
For the love of leadership, embrace it with a caring and learning mindset. For the love of humanity, renew your deeper love of leadership.