The Look of Leadership

Lynnda and I thank everyone for their prayers and well wishes for her recovery. We know prayer is powerful. Pain from the 6-inch incision on her breast where the mass was removed has been minimal. She describes it as discomfort not pain. At home after the surgery, a wasp stung her in the house. Lynnda claims the wasp sting is more painful than the incision. The oncologist is waiting for biopsy results to determine if chemotherapy or radiation is required. Lynnda will be on hormone pills for the next 5 years since her type of cancer is ER Positive. (Estrogen Receptor Positive) Meaning the cancer feeds on estrogen. The hormone pills stop estrogen production, if we understand correctly.

Lynnda doesn’t think of herself as leader. Our church, our family and others look to Lynnda for leadership. She is VP of Operations for Learned Leadership LLC, a small company. Leadership has nothing to do with title. Leadership expert John Maxwell says, “If you influence people and develop people, you are a leader,” regardless of title or position.

Author and management expert Stephan Covey said, “Our greatest influence with others is when we go through difficult circumstances.” Not when we are having great success. Lynnda chose to share her difficult circumstances to give others a better understanding of Breast Cancer. She encourages women to see their doctor and have precautionary tests done so they can catch cancer early when it is more treatable. That is leadership.

This week I saw another example of leadership. “G”, one of the senior captains of our high school soccer team showed up 15 minutes late for practice the day before our regional championship game. Coach Joe’s rule is, if a player is late for practice without good reason, they can’t start the next game. G is one of our best defensive players. Coach showed his leadership by being a person of integrity. G sat out the first 20 minutes of a critical playoff game.

Our opponent scored while G was on the bench. We fought back and tied the game. After regulation time and two overtimes it was still 1-1. In the penalty kick shootout our goalkeeper made one save giving us a 6-5 edge and a trip back to the State Tournament in Beckley. G showed his leadership by taking responsibility his mistake and apologizing to the entire team. G felt bad and was embarrassed for almost costing us the game. Those are difficult circumstances and G stepped up to take responsibility. Because of this the team still looks to him for leadership.

When in corporate America it was rare when someone in a leadership position stepped up to take responsibility for a mistake or an action that hurt others and/or the company. The employees usually knew who made the mistake. On one occasion a high-level manager sat quietly in a staff meeting while the VP publicly chewed out a young engineer for a serious mistake. The VP should never have chastised the young man in front of everyone. Leaders know to praise publicly and criticize privately. The young engineer did exactly what the high-level manager told him to do. Most of the people in the room, except for the VP knew it. They also knew they could no longer trust the manager. The VP learned the truth and the high-level manager’s career was over. He was quietly moved to “special projects”. I know the VP well enough if the manager had taken responsibility for the mistake like G did, he may have been chewed out but his career would be intact. Trust and integrity are essential for effective leadership.

Taking responsibility is rare in government from what I see. Blaming others is commonplace, especially for a big mistake. We all know who made the decision. We can see the result on TV. How often do we see people elected to leadership positions or in a high-level government leadership position take responsibility for their mistakes? They usually blame someone or something.

Focusing on leadership not politics, a small group in the US House of Representatives voted out the Speaker but apparently didn’t have a plan for who would be the replacement. Taxpayers are paying for the mistake. In the Executive Branch in Washington, public policy is to move to electrifying everything they can, like vehicles. Another public policy is shutting down coal and nuclear power plants and replacing them with intermittent renewables. We heard this week from power company executives and a PJM executive (our power grid), dependable power must come before electrification. It’s simple math. Who will government blame when power gets expensive and gramma freezes to death in the dark?

Taking responsibility and admitting it publicly is difficult. More than once as a manager, I stood in front of my employees or my boss and told l them I screwed up and I’m sorry. I don’t see an alternative. The truth always comes out sooner or later. Best to admit the mistake, keep your integrity and move on. Jesus said, “Let he who is without sin be the first to cast a stone.”

Putting ourselves out to others during difficult circumstances like Lynnda did is different. Our health is a private matter as are many other things. We don’t have share them. Viktor Frankl in his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” shared his vivid experiences of being Jewish in a Nazi concentration camp during WWII. In writing the book Frankl had to relive those experiences. It was a story that needed to be told for many reasons. Frankl had the courage to tell it and influenced others in many positive ways. That’s what leaders do. Leaders look for ways to help others.

We should all strive to be effective leaders. We can hold those in government and industry accountable like my friend the VP chose to do. Effective leadership makes us successful personally and as a nation.

Greg Kozera, [email protected] is Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. (You can follow SCUSA on Facebook) He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering and over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert, high school soccer coach, professional speaker, author of four books and numerous published articles.

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