This month’s focus: In a blog on the HBR Blog Network on 26 February 2013, Rosabeth Moss Kanter suggested “leaders must be firm and foster accountability, but they also must know when to forgive past wrongs in the service of building a brighter future.” It struck me that she was right, but that this is only a part of it…
What precisely is the work of leadership? Do yourself a favour – at the end of each day, spend 15-20 minutes going through your day and list the things that you did during the day that you consider were the work of leadership. At the end of the week go through your lists and see if any patterns occur. Then repeat your daily and weekly exercises the following week and see what emerges. I would be surprised if your view of the “work of leadership” is the same after two weeks, as it was at the beginning and, I guarantee, you will feel you have a much better idea of what your work as a leader is.
Moss Kanter’s words, strike a chord with me for leadership calls upon us to rise above our personal emotions and circumstances – and forgiving others for the sake of something bigger than ourselves is imperative, not only for our businesses, but for us to grow not only as leaders, but as people.
For leadership should grow us – it should grow us into not only better business people, but into better people, it should bring us closer to being our higher selves, if you like. Perhaps that is the primary difference between leading and managing.
And if leadership doesn’t grow us, doesn’t enable us to rise above our circumstances, in good times and in bad, if we haven’t grown as people, what then? I hasten to suggest that, in this event, our leadership has been limited, and the success of our business has been equally limited. Put another way, in this event, we failed our businesses, our people and ourselves.
So, best we take the work of leadership real seriously, something that transcends us and, paradoxically, makes us!
Is this not then the ultimate work of leadership that we are called upon to do?
Food for thought:
“Instead of settling scores, great leaders make gestures of reconciliation that heal wounds and get on with business.” (Rosabeth Moss Kanter)
I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts.
Best wishes for the rest of March.
PS Don’t forget to do the exercise in paragraph 2 – spend 15 – 20 minutes a day and really start coming to grips with the work of leadership. Good ROI, don’t you think!