I will never forget the look on my kids’ faces the first time they were served a summons to appear in court. They were about 9 and 10 years old. The letters addressed to them arrived in the mail. Somewhat excited and surprised that they had received official looking correspondence in the mail, they opened them and started reading: “You are hereby summoned to appear in…” That’s when they started to get a bit concerned. Bewildered by the idea that they would need to go to court, they handed me the letters, hoping that I could explain what was going on and whether there had been some sort of mistake. As it turned out, there hadn’t been any mistake at all.
When I first started my professional career as an entry level engineer at a manufacturing plant, my operations manager—my boss’s boss that is—was well-known as someone who made things happen. He had been plateaued at his level in the organization for quite some time, but rumors circulated that apportioned him with more clout than most of his superiors. I later learned that he had made a name for himself in start-ups, which he had led by spurring people into action and making things happen in the short-term, but he was not necessarily known for leading ongoing operations where he had to put sustainable systems in place and demonstrate consistent leadership behaviors. I’m sure we all know a leader or two like that!