People inspire and sometimes, disappoint. I’ve been especially touched by these examples*:
- A seasoned foundation executive who eschews misuse of power, develops new talent and prefers evidence to gossip. She shows me quiet confidence.
- A couple who saw my need and quickly offered to share their home. They show me generosity.
- A vibrant corporate retiree deeply informed by the chaos of war he experienced at a too-young age. This man consistently offers kindness, insight, tolerance, wisdom and vision that transcends the urgent now. He encourages me to consider multiple perspectives.
- A capable professional and fierce mother who fought relentlessly to develop a unique treatment that saved her child’s life. She shows me endurance.
- An experienced civic leader with terrific inter-personal skills and great respect for others closes his notes with “peace.” He offers me calm in choppy waters.
- A gracious lady recalls a deep misunderstanding that decades ago broke a vibrant relationship and sent her regrets. She demonstrates integrity.
- A random victim of a merciless beating who was left for dead and endured years of difficult rehabilitation to simply walk and talk again. This man has forgiven those who hurt him and altered his life. Now, he provides savvy advice, kind encouragement and important leadership to his family, church and community. He shows me resilience.
- A principled lawyer challenges corruption. She demonstrates resolve by speaking truth to power.
With sadness, I could share a long rift of situations where people have deeply disappointed. People with ignorant, rigid, inflexible perspectives that play “keep away,” discard others and are self-absorbed. Those who provide examples of insecure and fearful actions that exclude talented, ethical resources. Those who manipulate, deceive and support unjust practices that assure the status quo and perpetuate politics. People who assure their friends get big favors. On any given workday, we each see and live these disappointments. These attitudes and actions represent enormous opportunity cost.
We know authentic leaders make choices that inspire. They are learners, not knowers. They assure that power serves: others and those most vulnerable. They rebound. These characteristics are what endure and what engenders credibility. These features attract others. These are the people who support progress. It’s this conduct that supports high functioning partnerships, teams, coalitions and networks.
The attitudes and behaviors we can most influence are our own. Authentic leaders are driven by an internal compass that reflects key values. Although I make mistakes, I know my intentions: competence, candor, courage and compassion.
Who inspires you?
–Lisa Wyatt, Ed.D. is chief strategy officer and partner in Phillips Wyatt Knowlton, Inc. PWK is a performance management resource for systems and social change with clients worldwide. Lisa has cross-sector and international experience. She is an author and W.K. Kellogg Leadership Fellow. See: www.pwkinc.com *This post recognizes, with gratitude, MS, Ks, TSK, KA, TP, TC, PJW, TM.