Life is peppered with those few unexpected, yet deeply personal moments that can affect our perspective about our existence. It could be love, a tragedy, or an accident. Whatever they are or whenever they come, one’s outlook on life can shift, for better or for worse. Leaders make it for the better.
I recently had one of those moments. Driving on a six lane street, an SUV traveling from the opposite direction came into my car’s lane of traffic. It is surprising how vividly one remembers those brief seconds. Instinctively swerving into the unoccupied center turn lane, I was not able to escape impact. The SUV struck my sedan on the right front, setting off airbags and such, with my car being a total loss. Fortunately, no one was hurt other than minor cuts and bruises. The other driver apologized profusely for ruining my day.
Reflecting on the incident, these thoughts come to mind:
• I was fortunate that the good Lord and my car protected me. The airbags did their job and the car’s mechanical integrity prevented the SUV from coming into the cabin. I was also fortunate to have a responsive insurance company in State Farm to help my life get back to normal.
• I surprised myself with the “instinctive swerve” that kept the accident from being a direct head-on collision.
• For the next several days, I had a high level of anxiety about driving, anxious that every vehicle on the road would unexpectedly come at me.
• Anyone trained to drive on Europe’s high speed motorways has experienced the instructor admonishing them to “anticipate, anticipate! What if that person pulls out? What if they stop quickly? What if, if, if …?” Maybe I was not scanning the environment like I was trained, considering the “what-if’s”. I wondered if I had dropped my defensive driving guard?
• I was reminded that it can all change in an instant. If the SUV had climbed my fender further and come into the cabin, well…
• I remembered a TED talk by Ric Elias, a passenger on Flight 1549 “Miracle on the Hudson”. Ric’s five minute message that “life can change in an instant” is worth the listen. Here is the link:
Reflecting on my personal moment and upon Ric Elias’s talk, my perspectives on life have been reinforced and tuned:
1. Life’s priorities are faith, family, and job.
2. Don’t waste time on things that don’t matter.
3. Eliminate any negative energy that doesn’t move you forward.
Learn from those moments!
And Pass It On!
Quote from Ric Elias on what he learned while the plane crashed: “In my humanity, I also allowed my ego to get in, and I regretted the time I wasted on things that did not matter.”
“Do I select leaders like ‘X’ or ‘Y’?”, was the question a Corporate Vice President posed to HR and Manufacturing many years ago. This VP wanted to find the best-of-the-best, analyze their management styles, strategies, and psyche, and then, employ a deliberate process to select like-minded leaders for tomorrow. In essence, he wanted to clone the successful leaders.
To begin a baseline process, he personally selected two leaders with different management styles who consistently delivered excellent results and built solid teams. “X” was a reserved introvert while “Y” was a flaming extrovert, which intrigued the VP. If one type is better than the other, which one is it? With the assignment to find answers, two consultants and HR interviewed the two leaders and conducted 360 interviews with their peers, superiors, and subordinates. They also administered psychological assessments and the Meyers-Briggs personality tendencies test.
Weeks later, they reported back to the VP, who started the conversation: “So, do I clone “X” or “Y”? The consultant’s answer: “it doesn’t make any difference!” The focused VP exclaimed, “you mean we pay you all that money for you to tell me that it doesn’t make any difference?!” The consultants quickly explained that both leaders were successful, even with different personalities, because they knew how to adjust their leadership to the situation AND, just as important, they adjusted their communication to the situation, taking into account the content, the business needs, and the differences in the people.
Success of the leaders and the subsequent success of the business, links back to communications:
1. A central part of a leader’s success starts and ends with mastering the age-old learned skill of communication, knowing what best works for the leader, for the team, and for the situation.
2. Whether the leader is an introvert or extrovert, detailed or intuitive, they can learn to communicate well.
3. The Key Principles and Best Practices of Communication are transferable and learned. No one is born with innate ability to communicate well.
4. THINK about Communications before you initiate it. Do not be impulsive with communications, which is particularly true the higher up you are in the organization since the influence is further reaching.
Those leaders with seemingly natural communications skills have, in reality, worked hard to get there. It’s not easy but it isn’t rocket science. “It doesn’t make any difference” who you are or the tendencies of your personality. You can learn to communicate well, which can lead to great understanding, which can lead to success of the organization.
…And Pass It On!
Quote from author Tony Robbins: “To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”