Monday, December 24, 2012

What kind of Leader are you?!

No this is not a personality profile survey or a test; its a simple question around what kind of Leader are you?

I have always been identified as the type of individual that perhaps works too much, is a night owl and perhaps lives by the postmasters "neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night.." unofficial pledge.

In the day & age of smart phones I can be seen walking down hallways, carrying my coffee, my signature little notebook and hammering away at my BlackBerry (yes I still use one of them). I have been known to review documents, provide for my insight, outline our initiatives for the next year, plan for our new budget cycle & even respond to correspondence when at least half of us earthlings are asleep, usually the ones in the half I happen to be in at the time.

A recent dictum coming out of Leadership learning is that the more you perform in this fashion, i.e. through nights, weekends, holidays & dare I say vacations, you set expectations that people that you lead need to do so as well. This concerns me deeply as I would never want anyone to follow in my footsteps at a detriment to themselves. I am clear about this in my communication and usually preface my e-mail with when I would look for a response in relation to when I would think they would next view my note.

I have been recently thinking however, as I write communications this Christmas Eve morning, how I may be perceived sending across communique either today or tomorrow. I'm not the grinch by any stretch of the imagination, but have been a creature of quiet, when a lot of work does get done. With the hustle & bustle of a day through meetings, conference calls, driving to & fro, etc. I find needing time that I can actually achieve "desk work".

I guess what doesn't help it all is, I love my work. I have always been very frank about my career choices & never have I once taken on an opportunity that I did not find the love for. Life is too short & early on in my career I made a decision that I would love what I did or not do it at all. Sure I have tough days like everyone, but the bottom line is I love what I do, be it in as it turns out currently is healthcare, or education which is a part-time hobby or passionately pushing the agenda on my charitable activities or being an entrepreneur which I have been genetically prepared for.

As I put together all these thoughts of why I do what I do and consider it in-line with how it impacts those I lead, I come down to one fundamental principle, as much as I need to look after the interests of everyone, I need to look after mine as well. I recall the principle in aircraft safety that requires parents to put their oxygen mask on themselves first, before they attend to their child. Fundamentally I always had a problem with this part of the safety presentation, but understood the logic behind it as I grew up. Family, friends & colleagues have similarly shared their thoughts on self-care being needed to serve the needs of my health first, usually to be sleeping through the nights & taking a break through vacation, but the thought still holds. It maybe naive, but self-care in my opinion extends to how I believe I function best rather than being forced into a corporate cube.

So regardless of what kind of leader you are, its fine to work as you see fit. Culturally you need to ensure this fits with what's expected & recognize that as you look to working on your own terms, you need to be able to accommodate the work terms of those you lead. At the same time, it is ok, to be unique, an individual, as you yourself are a crucial cog of your team.

Being a Leader is an actualization of thought & practice. Although there are standards for what we should & should not do as Leaders, your unique flair is what makes you a unique authentic Leader. That above else, will allow you to succeed as a Leader, as the notion of "Be Yourself" can not be any truer than as a Leader. The people you lead need to able to experience your "authentic self" as the textbooks call it these days, not a forced clone of what is perceived to be the right Leader or with the right Leadership qualities.

And with that, Happy Santa Claus day in advance everyone.