If there is one thing I have learned about leadership, it’s that there is no secret formula or silver bullet that works for everyone in every situation. There is an abundance of leadership advice out there on what to do and what not to do, but in my case, it seemed like no matter how much I heard or read about leadership, none of the lessons really stuck until a little later than when I really needed them. I think sometimes you just have to experience what it’s like to not have things work out before you are ready to discover what’s in the way and be willing to take on new attitudes and habits to take your leadership to the next level. As the saying goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear!”
Leadership is my passion. I love to study it, I try to practice it to the best of my ability, I create models to express its concepts in practical and actionable ways, and I find great joy in seeing sparks fly when someone gets inspired to take their leadership effectiveness to the next level.
What fascinates me about being a student and a coach in the area of leadership effectiveness is that it is always personal. It is not a one size fits all thing. There is not a single formula you can apply that is guaranteed to give you the same results. It requires a thorough understanding of the situation and people involved, and masterful navigation and course corrections to create the desired culture and results.
One of the greatest challenges, and opportunities, on any team is to create synergy among team members with different backgrounds, styles, and preferences. Organizations that miss the mark on this often end up either enduring their diversity in hopes that someday it will work for them, rather than against them, or deliberately or subconsciously opting to create a homogeneous team where conflict does not exist. Unfortunately, both of these options rob the team of the synergy and the ensuing extraordinary results that could come from people of different talents and backgrounds working in concert.
If you are uni-lingual and don’t even want to read this post because you’re afraid I am going to talk you into learning a foreign language, please don’t leave! That’s not what I’m talking about.
I left my home country of Iran at age 16 to continue my education in the US. I had a very limited English vocabulary when I arrived in Boston and virtually no conversation skills as whatever English I knew, I had learned through reading and writing, not speaking to native speakers. About six months later, just as I was approaching the point of being able to get by, I moved to a very small town in south Georgia. I was on the Greyhound bus for 33 hours because I didn’t want to deal with the complications of flying to Atlanta and finding my way to Cochran, and I remember getting off the bus thinking it had gone all the way to Mexico while I was asleep because I could no longer understand what people were saying! Anyway, I figured out how to manage after a while. Little did I know that I would find myself in the midst of people whose language and culture I wouldn’t understand a few more times, many years later when my family and I moved to Thailand, and then Germany.
Unless you are a head of state or hold a critical post in government, you may be thinking, “What does my career have to do with world peace?” My answer is “everything!” It’s plain and simple, while some of us are busy trying to make deals and find temporary solutions that will stop people from killing each other over a piece of land or their ideological beliefs, most of us have lost sight of the simple truth that the key to a peaceful world is peaceful people.