It’s time to lead again!
Listen: A Year of Leadership[audio:http://welchwrite.com/career/audio/2009/career-op-20090102.mp3]
When looking back over 2008 I see a number of issues, but one that presses most deeply on my mind was a lack of leadership. From the highest government offices to the individual in a cubicle, it is as if we had collectively forgotten how to lead. We seemed to stand around looking at one another, expecting someone else to fix the problems. It should be clear by now that when leadership is lacking from above, it is imperative on each of us to take up the reins of power and help both ourselves and those around us by leading. For that reason, I declare 2009 the Year of Leadership. A year when we all reflect on what it means to be a leader and how we can exercise our leadership every day.
First, leadership isn’t something that happens out there, or more usually, up there. Leadership is an integral part of each of us. It is in our DNA. It is only when we ignore its call that our lives run off the rails. You may be thinking, “What is Douglas talking about? I don’t have any power, let alone the power to lead others.” This is where you are wrong. It is the small efforts that we provide every day that allow us to lead. We do have power. If nothing else, we have the power to provide a good example. We can choose to not do those things that make our lives more difficult, that abuse out bodies, that cause pain to others. In fact, I believe this is the most important power at our command – the power to do good.
Second, we need to show leadership when it is most uncomfortable and sometimes, the most dangerous. Corporations and con men take advantage of people’s fear and discomfort in “rocking” the boat. Whether we are inside a group, club or corporation we fool ourselves into thinking that the problems we encounter aren’t our problems or that someone else will take care of them. We have seen where this has led with Exxon, the mortgage crisis and, most recently, the alleged Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. If we continue to do nothing while customers get abused, investors get cheated and companies misstate profits then we have only ourselves to blame for our collective troubles. Again, leadership is not something that is handed down from on high. Leadership is in the small everyday actions we take to make ourselves, our companies and our government better, even when it is uncomfortable to do so. Imagine all the great works in the world that would have remained undone had not someone conquered their fear and chosen leadership over laissez-faire.
What will you do?
For myself, I am already starting in on the year of leadership. I am determined to lead in my two groups, New Media Interchange and LA Friday Coffee, as well as a new group for LA Organizers. I will strive to lead you all (and myself) to the “career you deserve” through these columns. I will lead my family through increased commitment to make the right decisions when they have to be made. I will lead by continuing to write my blogs on technology, podcasting, gardening and more. I will think twice before I ignore problems and allow them to fester.
There are so many opportunities for you to lead, too. Move ahead a faltering project. Solve an on-going and intractable problem that everyone hates, but no one takes the time or responsibility to solve. Share yourself and your knowledge to lead others in your area of expertise. Stand up and make a decision when no one else seems to be able. Even making a decision about where to have lunch with a group is a small act of leadership that needs to be achieved.
How will you lead in the New Year? What, long delayed, actions are you already considering with your new found focus? How will you exercise the new power that comes from a leadership focus? I would love to hear how you tackle this Year of Leadership. Send in your comments and questions either to the Career Opportunities blog or join us on the new Career Opportunities Community site. You’ll find a link on the web site. That, in itself, is a small act of leadership that can help all of us grow.
2009 is the Year of Leadership. Let us renew our commitment to leadership and all that it has to offer. We need it more than ever before.
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