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Will the Leader Please Stand Up!

September 18, 2014

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“When you sit, sit.

When you stand, stand.

Whatever you do, don’t wobble.”

-Dan Millman

You can’t study leadership without paying attention to what’s happening in the NFL these days. Although there is no direct correlation, what’s happening (or not happening!) in the NFL reminds me of the day, a few years ago, when I was Principal for the Day at a local elementary school.

I really had no idea what to expect, and quite honestly, I didn’t think I’d be doing much that day. Boy was I wrong! My experience reminded me of the days when I managed large multi-day conferences. You could barely sleep, because either something you planned or didn’t plan for had to be prepared or dealt with in almost every moment. It was both exhilarating and exhausting.

As Principal, the day began with what seemed to be very regular, daily occurrences…a meeting with Vice Principal to discuss what the day had in store, a budget meeting (which, in and of itself was quite complex and shocking), a few committee meetings for up-coming events, a school walk through, and a few class visits. But then the “unexpected” occurred. Call after call to handle emergencies, issues in classrooms, a security matter, and an almost violent, angry parent. I can’t tell you how impressed I was with the intelligence, diligence, compassion, patience, and integrity of this principal. I thought to myself, “She is indeed a CEO in the world of education.” She was present in every matter that she could, especially those that required her presence, direction and communication.

When I think about the challenges the NFL is enduring and its Commissioner as its leader, I ponder how different the conversation would be if he actually “stood up.” In my experience with the school principal, and with so many other courageous leaders I’ve encountered and studied, one trait that I admire so much and which I feel is at the foundation of leadership is their ability to STAND UP in the face of any issue—good or bad. To address the almost violent screaming parent, even if what you have to say to that parent will not appease him or her. In this case, the NFL has many “screaming parents” waiting for the truth; waiting for a voice. In fact, the world is waiting for it.

In leadership you have to OWN IT, not run from it. Nothing in this world of ours—in our experiences as humans— is perfect. Everything is an opportunity to learn and grow. Perhaps these violence issues are coming into play for the NFL to have them pay real close attention to their values, to do what’s right, and to make those changes that are necessary. If we really want to lead we must STAND UP. I think about this all the time for myself, in wanting to be the very best leader that I can, and I am always finding ways to stand taller and to improve.

In looking at yourself as a leader, are you hiding at all? Are you running away from challenges or very serious issues? Where can you stand up or stand taller?

Some things can and should be delegated, but others should not. True leadership is one of them!

What do you think?

Thanks for reading!

It’s Your Life. Lead it Well.

Monique

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