Saturday, December 27, 2008

Tough Leadership Lessons

A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go but ought to be.
~ Rosalynn Smith Carter

This morning my daughter and I went through an emotional time which gave me pause. She is twelve and cannot understand the complexities of a dysfunctional family (not that any child should have to). To give a brief backstory to help in the reader's understanding, my brother and I have not spoken in years. Perhaps as many as four of them. It is not something I am happy about, but it is my reality right now, and my wife and I have never minced words with our kids. We have always wanted them to understand their current realities as well, and sometimes this means dealing with not-so-nice issues.

So my mother and daughter are in town (they live in Arizona), staying in our house, and they plan to go visit my brother and his family for the holidays while they are here. Mom invites my daughter to go with them and I have to be the one to say no, which causes a certain amount of frustration and emotion on the parts of my daughter and her grandmother. When I found a free moment (tough to do when you are hosting out-of-town guests) I called my heart-broken twelve year old into the other room and tried explaining to her why I didn't want her to see her uncle until I made things right between him and I.

While she may not have understood in the moment, it was something I had to do. It is what I believe in, my bottom line. In this case, it was her safety, her well-being, my vision of what I see for her, want for her in the future.

I believe school and business leaders must do the same - figure out what your bottom line is, make sure everyone understands what your vision is, and don't waver from it. All decisions are based on the vision, even if they are tough to make. Don't mince words. Make sure everyone knows what you are all about. They may not understand in the here and now, they may walk out of your office upset with you in the moment, but you will be able to sleep at night knowing that you did what you know was right. Because you have an unwavering vision of excellence. No one can stand in the way of that.