(En)-Lightning Leadership

Written by on January 23, 2014

I love the double entendre of this title.  (Okay, I cheated on the spelling but had to make the point!). One image is a lightning bolt leader that demands you take notice, while the other is a more subtle, you could argue more effective, approach that is not always as obvious.  Especially not to those that aren’t paying close enough attention.

First, the lightning bolt.  I’m sure you’ve had the experience of hearing or experiencing something that literally sent electricity through your body.  Someone said or did something and you remember where you were and what you were doing when it happened.  Depending on your age and where you live, you probably just thought about the Boston marathon bombing, the shooting at Columbine, the disaster of Sandy Hook, or maybe even the day Kennedy was shot.

But have you ever had the lightning bolt moment that wasn’t around a tragedy, yet still changed you to your core? Maybe it was through a conversation, a glance, or a comment at just the right time. Maybe someone said something or did something for you that changed how you thought about things?  Perhaps changed how you viewed yourself or the direction your life would go?  What examples do you have for yourself?  Who has been a great inspiration to you?  A coach? A teacher? A parent? A Child?  Who has given you that jolt just at the right time?  A time when you really needed it.  When you needed someone to believe in you so much that it pulled you through a dark time.

Here’s a better question: Who have YOU done that for?  Who have you influenced in a way that made them think bigger?  When was the last time you had an exchange that inspired someone to live in the possibilities of their life instead of the circumstances of their situation?

It takes an (en)-lightened leader to realize how much influence they can have on their people, to really understand how important his or her role is in the development of who someone becomes.

Merriam-Webster defines enlightened as:  “Having or showing a good understanding of how people should be treated; not ignorant or narrow in thinking.”  I love that.  An explanation that isn’t trying to manipulate people into performing or acting like the bottom line is all that matters.  Being enlightened simply means the treatment of their people is a priority, along with the profitability of the company.  These leaders have the ability to rise above the petty issues of day-to-day living and connect to something much bigger.  They remember that “who people are” and “what they do” for a living are somehow connected.

Being an enlightened leader means you are aware.  Aware of the need to be careful with your title and your power.  It’s the leader that remembers the golden rule of reciprocity. It’s the leader that recognizes the value of the people AND the profits.  Isn’t that the person we would all run through walls for?  I know I would.