Now more than ever we need strong leadership in every facet of life. We need it, but we need it even more so for emerging generations. Families, neighborhoods, businesses, non-profit organizations, communities, and every facet of life needs leadership to survive, prosper, and forge ahead to realize visions and dreams that were once believed to be unreachable.
Many of us are in the second, or third part of life. We have gray hair, less hair, and a lifetime of experiences. We’ve been in the depth of the trenches and to the mountaintop. We’ve experienced loss, sickness, pitfalls, mistakes, failure, and victories. Only age and experience can garner these things and provide wisdom. We owe it to succeeding generations to lead and mentor well as we pass on the baton.
Leadership does the right thing. It may not always be the most popular, profitable, or awarded action, but it always defaults to doing the right thing at the right time. Leadership is humble, not afraid to admit mistakes, and accepts her people holding her accountable. Leadership values things like honesty, integrity, character, encouragement, mentoring, and modeling above profit. When leaders practice this way they are nearly always profitable and respected even though that’s not their ultimate goal. Leadership is passionate, focused, and inspires.
Business, politics, community life, can be cruel. It can be downright rough. If you’ve never had to terminate an employee you will never know the price of leadership. Leaders aren’t seeking popularity or accolades. Leaders want their team and people to be the best they can be and provide the tools and resources to make it happen as much they are able.
Leaders are good listeners. They don’t have to monopolize meetings. They say less, listen perhaps more than anyone else, but when they speak even with few words it comes from an informed, seasoned, experienced place of wisdom that can only be discovered over time and from past mistakes, and even failure.
Great leaders are always preparing the way for those who will follow. They take on challenges, projects, and matters that often don’t yield fruit until they are winding down or gone. Great leaders work themselves out of a job so to speak. Oh, they are still there guiding, influencing, and carrying the torch, but because they have led well, modeled, mentored, and empowered their people they can take a sabbatical and the ship will continue to sail.
Leaders are more aware of their flaws than any of their worst critics. These valiant men and women look in the mirror every day alone with themselves before anyone sees them. They are confronted with their failures, frustrations, and growing edges more than most. They give one or two close friends or peers the right to call them out, to challenge but also to encourage them. Great leaders are seeking popularity. They are focused on making their people, team, company, family, and the organization better than it was when they started.
Times of trial, indifference, tragedy and loss requires strong leadership. These are the days we need the wisdom and counsel of gray hairs that are open, informed, and even challenged by those with a full head of hair and only 5-10 years of experience. People who value dignity, respect, kindness, hard work, health, family, citizenship, and all good things. People who champion others to be better and grow, to learn from their mistakes and pat them on the back, or give them a nudge when needed.
Leaders don’t have to be extroverts in fact some of the greatest in industry, politics, religion, entertainment, sports, and academics have been very quiet. However, great, genuine leaders love people and want the world, their family company, and community to better off upon their leaving. This is what great leaders do and many do not receive rightful accolades or recognition until after they are gone. Leadership is an honor and privilege. If you want to be a great leader seek the counsel or wisdom of a great leader. Follow their lead. And read, read, read. If you are looking for a job think long and hard about the kind of leadership in which you will serve because it really does matter.
Charles Carter, Partner
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