Let's Heat it UP!

leadership motivation weekly workout Jul 29, 2022

This week I had the pleasure of meeting with a leader who I deeply respect and admire.

She has recently accepted an executive leadership role with a new company and was sharing what that experience has been like for her.

As she described some of what had been happening over the past few weeks I thought, “Surely she cannot be serious and soon she will say the punch line so we can have a good laugh.” But the punch line never came.

When she had finished recounting her unbelievable story she said, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”  Followed by what I believe to be the oath of extraordinary leadership. She said… "I will not give up.”

I knew that her first comment was how she felt in the moment based on all that had happened recently and not representative of an actual decision.

Her story reminded me of one of the times in my own leadership career when I was faced with a very difficult AND very rewarding experience.

I was still a relatively new leader and was leading a small team of 4 or 5 employees. We all basically shared the same work ethic, values, and standards so leading this team was smooth and effortless.

Then one day disruption happened, as I learned that things in my world were about to change.

There was a team of highly skilled employees who were shall we say “renegades.” In addition, I had no background and little knowledge about the work they were doing and the tasks necessary to successfully meet the departmental objectives. This was simply not a fit.

Their talents and expertise were very necessary to the organization which gave them a lot of leverage. They had succeeded in chasing off a number of managers and were at the time without direct leadership.

My team on the other hand was working collaboratively, efficiently, and producing wonderful results. Someone thought it might be a good idea for me to lead the renegade team. The conversation between the company and myself regarding leading this team went something like this…

First conversation - Company: Would you be willing to take on the __ team?

Me: NO, thank you.

Second conversation – Company: We really want you to take on this team.

Me: No, thank you.

Third and final conversation – Company: Say hello to your new team!

Me: Thank you!

Leading that team was one of the best experiences of my leadership career.

When I reflect on the leadership qualities, abilities, skills, and characteristics that I gained as a result of leading that team I feel tremendous gratitude.

Developing exceptional leadership traits can only be compared to the alchemic process or firing clay to solidify a form, or to the immense pressure and extreme temperatures that cause the formation of diamonds.

Most leaders do not develop incomparable qualities from experiences that are uncomplicated and comfortable. Usually, we do not tend to stretch and broaden our capabilities unless and until there is a force causing us to do so. 

If you have the intention of being an exceptional leader you must be willing to experience the heat, pressure, and truly impossible-to-believe encounters.

Every difficult experience is an opportunity to grow, stretch and gain the qualities of great leaders.

It starts with a shift in perspective. Each challenge is an opportunity to shift your perception. I am not advocating “pretending” or trying to feel something other than what you feel. “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

I am encouraging you to choose to engage with the opportunity before you even as uncomfortable as it might be. “I will not give up.”

Ask yourself these questions when you feel the heat.

  1. Am I willing to use this opportunity to stretch beyond my normal default behavior?
  2. Am I willing to feel the discomfort of the situation and remain committed to developing the necessary characteristics or qualities?
  3. What is the characteristic, or quality that needs to be practiced in this situation?
  4. Whatever the outcome am I prepared to acknowledge my willingness?

Note: I feel it necessary to mention that if you decide that your answer to question #1 is no, still consider it a success. Deciding means that you are consciously choosing and therefore not automatically defaulting to former behavior. If the intention is to grow, you will have countless opportunities that will support that intention.

Be BOLD turn UP the HEAT!

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