Four factors that underpin great leadership
This weekend I will be participating in something with a very important mission: I am walking 39 miles to help find a cure for breast cancer. Weekends leading up to this event have included a lot of training, a lot of walking and a lot of thinking.
As I’ve walked mile after mile, one thing that has been a recurring theme is the relationship between leadership and this very important walk. I am walking with a team of more than 40 women and men. I’m struck by the fact that we are a group of individuals who have come together for a common mission (like finding a cure for breast cancer), and how that mission rallies us despite how different we may seem to be. Another thing that strikes me is the accountability factor: both the individual and the financial accountability. On an individual basis you must train in order to complete the 39-mile event and there is a significant physical component that must be completed systematically, similar to leadership. The financial accountability is just as significant: each of us has to raise $1,800, meaning we all have a stake in the game. We feel accountable and personally responsible to contribute to our team goal of raising $100K towards breast cancer. The accountability starts with the individual, moves to the team and ultimately contributes to a larger framework of how we lead and manage; and in this case save or change lives that have been impacted by breast cancer. When I link our teamwork and contributions back to leadership it becomes very evident that we’re all being led by a cause. We’re leading ourselves in the process, but there is a sense of team and camaraderie that comes upon us as we walk together.
Our team mantra is that no one gets left behind. Some of us walk really fast, and some of us walk under 3 miles an hour, but everyone has a pacesetter or a walking buddy. We train together, we walk TOGETHER and through this we accomplish so much together.
As a leader within Korn/Ferry, these Saturdays of 20 miles are my time to think, and to focus on self-awareness; something I believe we all need more time to contemplate. I know most leaders are having a hard time finding this time to de-clutter their heads. I feel very fortunate that I get to think and be more self-aware in a space where I’m really focused on breast cancer, finding that cure and changing people’s lives. It is not just that we wear pink shirts. Along the way, every Saturday, I learn more about the ways that breast cancer has impacted and shaped the lives of my teammates. Leadership demands behavior that is constructive, that is positive, that is about having meaningful impact in the world. I hope that we as leaders and as individual contributors always think about a cause that allows us to fine-tune our ability to lead and follow and team. Most importantly, to have an impact that is greater than all of us combined.
So in summary the link between WALKING 39 MILES to help find a cure for breast cancer and LEADERSHIP:
• Being a good leader requires a high degree of giving back and community wellbeing- it is all about IMPACT
• Leading is easy when there is a greater mission and purpose that connects the leader to his/her followers- it is all about MISSION
• Forming a truly connected team is critical and great leaders make sure that no one gets left behind- it is all about CONNECTIVITY
• Self-awareness is a game changer for all leaders and is a critical component of our ability to lead and be agile in a highly demanding environment – it is all about knowing SELF
For me, finding a cure for breast cancer is about life and death and therefore one of the primary missions in my life! Getting the art of leadership right is a secondary yet vital professional mission! If we all approach leadership with the same passion and belief that we approach our personal causes, we will elevate the mission and contribution of LEADERSHIP, and our FOLLOWERS will know it!