The Enormously Small Moments Of Leadership Greatness


I have come to see that leadership is about small moments.

It is rarely a big moment, with bells ringing and horns blowing, when a leader in name becomes a real leader. But rather a small moment – a moment when an executive suddenly sees that they can make a subtle shift to get different results.

Much of the time I am working with executives in a jam: trying to bring their team to new heights within the chaos of a changing marketplace; a team is stuck in old thinking while the organization is moving in a new direction; leading a new team that is not hit their grove yet.

In these projects, there is always a moment, a brief ‘aha’, when the leader sees or does something different than they ever have before. Sometimes I am the only one around to witness it. Sometimes their team is there too. Whichever the case, I feel privileged to witness these small moments.

*The moment when a division President pauses and reflects on how is she contributing to the team’s underperformance. She realizes her treating the Board’s requests like emergencies are putting everyone into fire drill mode and distracting them from the important priorities.

*The moment when an executive brings their department together for a “fun” team building session against his better judgment and realizes that his team thinks he is cold, aloof and a jerk. His team sees him smile and laugh as they work together and starts to accept him. He realizes if he just says hello, and smiles in the morning as he walks past his employees, they will respect him more.

*The moment when a President is open to hear the gossip that his managers have lost respect for him for not being open with them about a M&A situations last year. He takes it to heart and stands on stage in front of 150 managers and apologizes from the heart, and they can all forgive him and move forward.

*The moment when an executive listens to her crying subordinate telling her that her tough on people approach is causing pain at work and home, and they agree to begin anew.

*The moment when a new executive realizes through joint discussion that the “personal” conflict of 2 peers on team is not personal, but the result of his lack of clarity of responsibilities and their resulting fight for power and status.

These are beautiful moments. Moments when I realize that it doesn’t take much to change course. It doesn’t take much to positively impact people. It doesn’t take more than the willingness to slow down and see what is really happening around you. It is these moments that feed me and inspire me to do what I do.

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