Monday, December 15, 2008

fit leadership

Over the past 8 months, I have gone through the process of losing almost 50 lbs. Turning 49 this past May made me look at myself and say,"What do I want to do and be by the time I turn 50?" As I looked around me, I saw several people whom I admired who were both successful and fit. I began to put 2 and 2 together, and there began to be a realization that there might be a correlation between being fit and being successful. While I have yet to find detailed research on this topic, I did come across the book The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz (thanks to my friend Ron Kessler for the recommendation) to provide enough evidence to convince me to GET IN SHAPE! And so I did.

May & June - portion control (10 lbs lost)
July & August - South Beach Diet phases 1 & 2 (20 lbs lost)
September, October & November - exercise, portion control and South Beach phase 3 (15 lbs lost)

As I near the end of December I am trying to lose the final 5, and putting together an exercise routine that will keep me at my ideal weight. Why am I doing all of this? Three reasons:

1. If there is a connection between being fit and being successful, then I want to be fit
2. When acting as a representative of my institution to the public, I should look the image of being fit and successful
3. As a steward of the gifts God has given me, one of those gifts is my health and well-being

Leaders should be fit - not just to be more successful, but to set an example for others to follow. In addition, leaders need an extreme amount of energy to do what is required on a regular basis. Getting and staying fit is not a goal - it is a lifestyle. It has taken me 49 years to figure this out - I hope that others will not wait so long and get going to be fit - and stay fit - and LEAD!

Friday, December 5, 2008

the problem with caring for people

Everyone has always told me to care for people - "if you take care of your people, they will take care of you"..."people are your most important asset." You have probably all heard the phrases and, like me, would find it hard to argue against these adages of leadership. But let's consider the dark side of caring for people.

As a leader, who/what am I most reponsible to/for? Is it the employees? Is it the customer? Is it the stakeholder? OR - is it the institution itself? Consider the fact the one is hired to lead an institution - not people. People come and go - people disapoint - people are people. And yet, the institution remains. It is the institution that people connect is the institution that is held up as the standard of is the institution that is maligned when people do stupid things...and it is the institution that will remain when the employees, the customers and the leaders are all long gone.

As leaders, it is easy to get wrapped up in our people, especially when their personal issues begin to overwhelm them . The employee who is going through a tough time at home...the employee who is suffering from illness or addiction...the customer who is having trouuble paying their bills...the stakeholder of influence who has become an embarrasment. All of these issues demand our time and energy - and when we focus on these people, the institution can suffer. Let's face it, how much time and energy do we spend on those people who do their jobs well, go above and beyond the call of duty, and are never in our offices complaining? Do we ever wake up in the middle of the night thinking about them? Do we sit in meetings considering our next moves for our BEST people? Imagine for a moment if we, as leaders, devoted as much time and energy to those people who positively contribute to the institution as we do on those who negatively affect the institution?

Are people important? ABSOLUTELY! But our role as leaders is to care for the institution - its growth and its future. We cannot allow people (and all of their issues) to get in the way of that calling. When they do, measures need to be taken to minimize those distractions and work to change their behavior. If those measures fail, then our role as leaders is to help those people move on so that the institution can once again focus on its mission - and not solely on its people.