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Front Line Staff / Staff Leadership and Management

Improving as a Leader = Improving as a Person

essence leader

To be a truly good LEADER, one must espouse the following sorts of traits and behaviors:

  •  Listen well

  • Speak judiciously

  • Approach others with humility

  • Laugh often (especially at yourself)

  • Treat others with empathy

  • Remain calm and thoughtful in the midst of stress

  • Be mindful of personal health so as to remain valuable to others

To be a truly good PERSON, one must espouse the following sorts of traits and behaviors:

  • Listen well

  • Speak judiciously

  • Approach others with humility

  • Laugh often (especially at yourself)

  • Treat others with empathy

  • Remain calm and thoughtful in the midst of stress

  • Be mindful of personal health so as to remain valuable to others

It’s simple arithmetic, but I’m not sure we always remember it.

Leadership is a human endeavor, one based almost solely on one’s capacity to relate well to others. Sort of like…life.

Go to a bookstore and look through the hundreds of books about leadership development and then flip through the hundreds of books about personal improvement and I bet at the core there really isn’t that much of a difference between the bodies of improvement presented.

Essentially the blurred lines between who we are as people and who we are as a leader establish a truism that the two aren’t really separate at all. I don’t know if I’ve ever met someone who is a better leader than they are a person. An honest, humble, calm, and empathetic person leads with those same capacities.

However, I do think I’ve met people who are far better PEOPLE than they are LEADERS.

We’ve all probably come across someone who is charming and thoughtful and magnetic in his or her “real world” who is then transformed by role and place into a modified (and often lesser) version of his or her truer self. What a bummer. And how avoidable.

Ultimately, if you subscribe to the notion that it will be difficult to be a better leader than you are a person, then leadership development is tantamount to personal growth. If we strive to be a more open, responsive, thoughtful, and kind person from 9:00 – 5:00, then we should do the same in the hours away from work.

The efforts are one in the same.

In fact, to envision that somehow these efforts could exist in separate strands is to willingly admit that we are one person at work and another outside of work. This is not only illogical, it’s also fraught with peril. The alignment of personal values with professional practice is central to job satisfaction. When we are out of alignment, we are at grave danger for professional burnout. Therefore, pulling together our personal and professional improvement efforts into a singular focus is an essential element of sustaining ourselves in all regards.

The reality is that when we’re working for kids and around kids, we don’t have the luxury of not being hyper-aware of not just what we do but how we do it. Kids are watching. They’re always watching. Our staffs are watching. The community is watching. So if we we’re truly going to excel in our work, we need to excel as people. That is a challenge from which we all benefit. Especially ourselves.

For breakfast I had a cinnamon-raisin bagel with honey and peanut butter. In that order so the honey soaks into the bread. And two cups of coffee. Just two.

Author: Nathan Eklund
Principal Consultant
Eklund Consulting
Minneapolis, MN
Website URL: http://www.eklundconsulting.com

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