Too many of us think that leaders are born, not made. We presume that leadership is an innate skill that we either have, or we do not. The reality is that leadership skills can be successfully taught, and learned. More importantly, good leadership gets demonstrated in a variety of contexts, by people of all levels and from all walks of life. Leadership isn’t necessarily the product of conscious intention; it shows up because it is needed. Above all, though, leadership is a performance; it involves embracing the behaviours and performing the roles that are essential in the moment, in response to the situation, to attain the outcomes that are required.
Every year, the Ride for the Breath of Life raises funds for Cystic Fibrosis research. I have been participating for many of the seventeen years that the ride has been held. This year, my participation was once again virtual, as I rode alongside but at a distance with those that gathered in Edmonton. It was a spectacular day, for a very important cause. It is a cause that I am happy to support, and I’m grateful for the generosity of everyone that sponsored my participation.
A recent article made the assertion that being helpful was undermining your job performance. That strikes me as a pretty astonishing take. Not only have many—and hopefully most—of us been raised to see helpfulness as a virtue, it is just about the only way to get things done organizationally. Organizations already have a knowledge management problem. Senior staff start approaching retirement, taking their expertise and their insight with them. Creating boundaries that keep them productively focused may be a short term strategy for profit maximization. It doesn’t play out well in the long term. Here’s what does.
We have a complicated relationship with sharing and copying the work of others. Which is a polite way of saying that there is a great deal of plagiarism in the world, some of it only thinly veiled. It is an entirely different proposition when we think about copying ourselves. It’s our work already. So what could possibly go wrong? Without the appropriate attentiveness and focus, the answer is “A great deal.”
That we are in a collective and unprecedented liminal experience is pretty much beyond debate. We are also now at a point where we can see the return to something like normalcy being dangled tantalizingly before us, somewhere in the near-distant future. The question is where we want to go from here. The pandemic is a universally experienced imposition of reality where none of us had control. Emerging from the pandemic, however, is an entirely different proposition. We have choice. We have opportunity. We have agency. But what do we do with it?
I didn’t intend to write this article. I didn’t even want to write this article. But I didn’t want to leave last week’s article as the end to the series that I’ve been working on. There was somewhat more to be said, and in particular some specifics to be explored about tools. To be clear, I endorse none of the tools that I mention. But I’m curious about several of them.