I find myself thinking about leadership an awful lot lately.
I’m craving it.
Our upcoming state and federal elections have a lot to do with my craving, though I personally don’t think of any elections as “upcoming” as our current crop of politicians do… wouldn’t it be nice if they actually did the work we thought we were electing them for, instead of turning their job into a 9-5 of thinly disguised campaigning and ideology soap-boxing? And wouldn’t it be great having broadcast media return to true journalism, and investigative reporting on worthy issues instead of publishing political polls, and hedging their bets on polarized races? (Okay, that was more rant than craving.)
My cravings with leadership are heavily influenced by the less-than-healthy economy too (as my recent postings here illustrate), and significantly, that what may be the biggest movement of our time is a leaderless one. There’s still global warming and our La NiÃ±a year weather challenges, the harshness of the coming winter on those who are poverty-stricken, and our energy crisis to think about as our public sector continues to get tapped out, or opts for austerity measures.
Often, I think about the quality of education our youth are getting (or not getting) as 21st century teachers struggle to reinvent their curriculum and their methods, while the “elder statesmen” in the ivory towers of academia obsess over their own tenure and broken budget models. I think about the skills training which must get better defined vocationally, given our “Great Reset” and I wonder where more leadership will emerge there.
These are just the biggies that we all hear about and grapple with daily, and we could pick on the private sector too; they are not immune from today’s recessionary and climactic adjustments. However there’s a myriad of smaller reasons I crave leadership as well. They are ‘smaller’ in that they don’t make the headline news as frequently (if at all), but they are not small in their importance.
These “smaller reasons” is the stuff of leadership as a value. They are catalysts and triggers, because they are behaviors, and when we concentrate on them, they have a significant domino affect, where they affect all these things we consider to be such big issues.
Leadership delivers the affirmation of our values
For instance, there is the need for ethical behavior, where leaders set a good example with “the right thing to do” versus the politically correct strategic advantage.
There is the need for bravery with innovation in a plethora of business models, and the need for new advancements in science.
There is the need for societal coping with increased aging, with more support for new family structures as we all live longer and with increasingly varied interests.
There is the need for more individualism and less conformity, more youth-infused change, and more senior-respected knowledge brokering, honoring time-tested experience.
There are the needs which can be addressed by exponential growth in social entrepreneurship and non-profiteering. On the other side of the coin, our behavior as consumers could use some nobility too.
There is the opportunity for healthy, collaborative competition, where those competing to unveil the next big idea are working on the greater good of our populace and our planet.
Values do fulfill these needs, and in particular, the opportunity for caring and courageous leadership is spreading like wildfire. When opportunity beckons, self-leadership can become most critical of all:
“Example has more followers than reason.”
~ Christian Nevell Bovee
What do we do, when leadership fails us?
I find that I am thinking about leadership an awful lot more than usual, because to be perfectly blunt, it’s missing in action where we’re supposed to be assured of finding it. Those positioned for leadership by merit of their title aren’t performing well, and they continue to flounder, or worse, retreat in buck-passing.
It is incredulous to me – appalling really – that no single leader on Wall Street has emerged to say, “We hear you America, we do! This is what we will do about your pain.” in response to the growing Occupy movement. It saddens me terribly to think the President of the United States feels he must “resort to” taking his message to the people because his workplace team, the U.S. Congress, isn’t actually on his team (or he on theirs, as Thomas Friedman had pointed out).
Remarkable leadership would make me wildly jubilant (buzzwords are fascinating, aren’t they?) however I must say I’d do cartwheels and sing out loud for more basically sound leadership too. I crave new heroes for our modern, right-now world, heroes who inspire the rest of us to be better than we now are. I crave for heroes everywhere, and I want lots of them.
When I have cravings like this, cravings which cause me to yearn for better answers to my frustrations, there is a place I know to look deeper into. That place is this sweet spot where my personal values match up to the most touch points with the values of Managing with Aloha.
This is a good time to talk story about SELF-LEADERSHIP and make things more personal.
Sure, we need to elect the best leaders we can, and I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the platforms of each leader you select in any forum, and each politician you will vote for: Be part of an enlightened, well-informed electorate wherever you may live. Be articulate and vocal: Voice your opinion so that those you support will clearly understand they are elected to represent you and the constituency you share residency within.
For that matter, don’t be content with sitting back and watching others in any team you are a part of: Get involved in a substantive way. Be active in how you participate.
However if you crave exciting new leadership too, you know that good participation is not enough, don’t you. We need generously large doses of self-leadership, and we need it everywhere and in everyone, for when we work together, we get pretty profound results. We are unstoppable.
I want unstoppable.
Alaka‘i Leadership is a concept of abundance
I want to be a new hero of our time, and I want you to be one too. There is a lot of opportunity to go around, and I’ve never been one who subscribes to the belief that there can be too many Chiefs and not enough Indians, at least not when both Chiefs and Indians are working with great values, and leading with Ho‘ohana and ‘Imi ola-generated intention and passion. Good leadership has very little (if anything) to do with titles, positions, or power; both Chiefs and Indians can have it. The only question is if they call upon their values and use it.
So call yourself Chief, call yourself Indian- BE the leader you want to be. Be Alaka‘i:
“As a person who is Alaka‘i, you build the strength of character found in initiative and independence… Those who are Alaka‘i possess a strong belief in their own capacity and in the power of possibility: They are confident optimists, filled with hope.”
— Alaka‘i, the value of leadership, in Managing with Aloha
And in case you missed it: Calling all Managers: We need you.
This post, its intention intact but content substantially edited for new publication today, had originally appeared within another blog I loved dearly at the time, called Managing with Aloha Coaching (circa August 2007 through December 2008). The blog was dedicated to a more in-depth, Hawai‘i-connected study of the 18 values presented in my book, Managing with Aloha, and was written during the pre-recession height of my then-consulting business, an almost frenetic time where my coaching laboratory was flush with activity and new learning both for me and my clients, most of whom remain great friends. As I should have expected from that effort, integrally woven with my own Hawai‘i Sense of Place as it was, MWAC became more personal than I had intended it to be, but in my mana‘o, it was also an immensely pleasing Ho‘ohana blend. I plan to eventually retire the site, and so I am slowly bringing its content here for a co-evolution with Talking Story, where its honored spirit can continue to teach, and be added to, for Ka lā hiki ola, it will always be the dawning of a new day in some regard!