By Ian Sampson
I read a story this morning in Forbes magazine about a leader who failed to act when he saw a young woman abusing an older woman on a bus. What stopped him, when he knew he should or could have done something? He said it was self-preservation in the end that constrained him. But he concluded the article by beating himself up for not doing or saying something.
What are the lessons for leadership? I think there are three:
- Understand what our underlying models are. Mine is that we all act continuously out of either a domain of care/love or fear (“self-preservation”he called it). I always seek to act from the first domain, even in the face of my fears.
- When we don’t do this, don’t beat ourselves up; clean it up so that integrity can be restored. In this case a mere acknowledgement that he did not act appropriately and a resolve to act more leaderfully at the next opportunity might be all that was necessary to restore him.
- Recall that actions speak louder than words. In this case, the fellow agonised about what he should have said; he could have just moved forward and picked up the women’s bags that had been thrown on the ground. That would have spoken more to the victim, the young lady, the other passengers and the man’s own heart than anything he could have said. Cause and Effective has developed an approach called Powerful Leadership in Action. Let’s have a chat to see if it might help you in your leadership.
With all that said, a leader is one who moves the action forward. “Leadership begets leadership; inaction begets inaction.”
About Ian: Ian Sampson (B.Comm., LLB., FAICD, FAIM) is a Cause & Effective Associate. He is a Strategic Advisor to Boards, a Leadership Coach and a Facilitator of our Powerful Leadership in Action Program . He can be contacted here