As I read the papers and listen to the rhetoric of business leaders across a range of companies, I think there is an emerging confusion about leadership. The emphasis is on the optics of leadership. Specifically, what do people hear and see about what leaders are doing. What is the perception that comes from emails, articles, and speeches? What is seen in photo opportunities?
I know that these items matter. What others see and hear shapes understanding. The “but” that emerges rests on a simple foundation. What one does matters! True leadership is about actions and awareness. If you are going to lead leading, then you need to focus on both.
In a one on one moment, I can be as confident as anyone. It is easy to tell the story, with details, optimism, and colors. Having said that, a weakness is publishing stories and creating photo opportunities to publicize the story. Not only is this not one of tools in my skill-box, I do not have anyone around me that is very good at it either.
I find myself rethinking my approach. I still believe actions are the foundation. What we do and why we do it is important! Start with motive. Add in the willingness to engage, especially in the difficult areas of life. Have a plan. Execute though action, learning, and improved action. Let the process be what it is. Do not worry focus on power, status, and glory. Do the right thing for the right reasons. This is the model that wisdom fathers across the generations have relied on. Centuries ago, Paul noted how “this is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out. It’s written, I’ll turn conventional wisdom on its head, I’ll expose so-called experts as crackpots.” (1 Corinthians 1.19)
With this foundation, begin to tell the story. One on one is a good start. Enlist the help of others. Powerful stories have a reality within them. They last. It is never too late to begin a new chapter. Today can be one of one for us.