I deliberated whether or not I’d send my regularly scheduled weekly newsletter during Thanksgiving week. But, especially this year, I think it is important to connect in moments of gratitude whenever possible. Against a backdrop of a tumultuous 2020, I know that each of us can find something we are thankful for. So, I write this week to wish each of you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. I am thankful that you are reading my newsletter. It allows me a moment each week to share my thinking and try to bring value through insights and ideas that can help you and your company succeed. Have a great holiday weekend!
Best Leadership Conversation of 2020:
Last week I spoke with a 4th grade class (by Zoom) about leadership. I’ve done it a number of times with my daughters’ classes as part of the Great American Teach In – where parents of students come to class to speak about their work. It’s always a humbling experience as my career looks intensely boring compared to the firefighters, doctors, restauranteurs, and other professions that are both cooler and require just one understandable word to know what they do for a living.
This year, rather than spend most of the time talking about the job of a consultant or author we had a discussion about leadership. To my delight – I wasn’t sure what to expect with 9-year-olds on Zoom – we had an amazing discussion.
I was impressed by how much these 4th graders intuitively know about leadership. When I asked them “What are the characteristics of a leader and how do leaders behave?”, the answers I got were about being brave, showing kindness, standing up for what you believe, and standing up for others when they are being bullied. We concluded with this critical lesson: the only way someone knows you are a leader is by how you treat them.
In my book The Hidden Leader, I focused on the importance of decoupling the idea of leadership from position and title in a company. Sure, a person’s job title communicates responsibility, but real leadership is demonstrated in the way people behave. It was refreshing to talk about this fundamental concept, let alone with 4th graders. With a new year on the horizon, we all stand to benefit from what these bright 9-year-olds understand: true leadership is easier said than done, but boils down to how we treat others.
Help To Find Your Seat:
I saw this a few years ago and added it to my calendar to look at the day before Thanksgiving every year. Just a classic use of stereotypical humor that works. Of course, this year looks different so I’m waiting for a Zoom seating chart graphic.
Two for Thanksgiving; one for reflection and the other for humor.