Taking the High Road

This topic has been weighing on me lately. It seems many of the sacrifices good parents make could also be said of good leaders. Leaders spend much of their time on stage. I am not sure if many of them realize how much the things they say and do get analyzed by those who work for them. Leaders often become protagonists or antagonists in the hallway stories. Leaders need to realize they set the culture, the morale, and the work ethic within their organizations. While there are many points we could make on this topic, here are a few that stand out to me.

A leader doesn’t get the luxury of wearing emotions.  Day to day there are many things that wear on our emotions. The amount of frustrating situations could easily cause a person to take a ride on an emotional roller coaster. Leaders don’t have that luxury. Emotional mood swings affect the productiveness of the team and the effectiveness of the leader. I certainly am not advocating becoming a Vulcan, devoid of emotion; however, even-keel emotions in the workplace are more effective.

A leader says what needs to be said and nothing more.  Leaders have to say the tough things, stand up for what’s right, and sometimes even stand alone against the majority. An equally tough challenge is remaining silent when there is the opportunity to say more, to needlessly put someone in their place. You can read more about why less is more in “Take that Back!”
Dolomites, Italy - Alto Adige

A leader knows to say “we” when it’s going well and “I” when it’s not.  A boss once told me to always give the team credit when things were going well and to take the heat when they weren’t. This is how the team knows you have their back. Take the heat so they can focus on the course-correct. And when it’s time, give them the glory; they are the ones making you look good.

A leader always focuses on the solution, not pointing fingers. The most frustrating situation I find is when a leader is so focused on “how we got here” rather than “what steps are we going to take so we can succeed?” I firmly believe in performance feedback and reviews, but those are for private moments, away from the emotions of the situation. When a problem is occurring, the focus is better placed on solving the issue. Performance can be better addressed once removed from the issue, where the perspective is a little more clear.Being a good leader can sometimes feel lonely. At times it feels like you can’t be yourself. Instead of giving in to throwing the computer across the room, you have to be composed. Instead of ripping into someone who deserves it, you focus on the problem, not the person. I encourage you to not think of it as being unable to be yourself; on the contrary, you are being a better you. You are a you that is in control of yourself. A leader worth modeling. 

Jana Axline is president and leadership coach at Axline Solutions. Through her leadership musings she hopes to inspire audiences to grow as leaders and ultimately achieve who they were created to be. For more information visit Axline Solutions.

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