The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to reinforce your sense ability and sensibility. Reading time: 3:58
You’ve been stabbed in the back –politically. By a “friend.” You’re hurt and confused.
Who can you trust –if not a colleague you considered a friend?
Feels No Pain
You want to hide in your office. Slam the door shut (if you only had one). Shun everyone. Especially your so-called friends.
You’re angry!!! So angry you find yourself broiling and roiling in the frustration and swirling and whirling in the exasperation unleashed in Simon & Garfunkel song: I Am a Rock.
I have no need of friendship.
Friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock. I am an island.
And a rock feels no pain.
And an island never cries.
In protecting themselves from frayed feelings between colleagues and friends, even the most effective leaders are tempted to hide behind a rock or bury their heads deep into the financial reports as author John Steinbeck observed in Grapes of Wrath.
Steinbeck called the rock-hard, walled-off bosses in their offices — “owner men.” They “worshipped” their data, reports etc. because those hard numbers “mathematics” provided a “refuge from thought and from feeling.”
But the leader in you knows better: Feelings are the foundation of leadership. Even raw feelings. You can’t lead without trust and you can’t trust without feeling.
That’s why scorned leaders find a way to soothe their raw feelings, keep their office doors open, keep their hearts and minds open, dust themselves off, climb back up in the saddle again to ride yet another day.
Leaders scorned in particular have a renewed appreciation for exhilarating insights that can come from conflict and loss. And they personally acknowledge the truth in the off-stage chant that closes the opera Tales of Hoffmann that:
“One is made great through love.
One is make greater through tears.”
Their sense of vulnerability becomes a source of their strength. They realize what Howard Haas opines in his book The Leader Within that: “leadership is less about sheer talent than about introspection forged from suffering.”
The most effective leaders recognize their sense ability is as important as their sensibility; their ability to perceive and feel is as critical as their ability to think and discern.
Leaders have the courage to admit their feelings have been hurt. After all it would be a lot easier to shun the world when you’re in a world of hurt as noted authors Ron Heifetz and Marty Linsky observe in their book Leadership On The Line.
“To avoid getting hurt too badly,
it’s easy to turn innocence into cynicism,
curiosity into arrogance and compassion into callousness.”
But leaders are curious and compassionate. They get hurt and they do cry, even big tough guys like Rosie Grier.
The 370 pound pro football star defensive end for the then Los Angeles Rams in 1970s recorded a Carol Hall song titled It’s All Right to Cry.
The fact that on Earth man is the only animal that cries is not lost on leaders.
They know that their capacity to cry is part and parcel of their humanity. They identify with Tom Wingo, the fictional hero in Pat Conroy’s novel The Prince of Tides.
His eyes well up with tears after reading one of his sister’s poems. Wingo affirms the value in shedding a tear to rekindle your sense of humanity:
“It was good to feel the tears try to break through.
It was proof I was still alive, inside down deep
where the hurt lay bound and denigrated
in the cheap bitter shell of my manhood.”
No wonder the most effective leaders identify with the Ancient Mariner who first had to feel pity for the bird he shot in Samuel Coleridge’s poem: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” Only then did that albatross let go of the ancient mariner’s neck.
Feelings — tears and all–rock! And leaders rock ‘n roll. No need to crawl under a rock or hide on an abandoned island.
Even when an albatross is hung around their neck. Or they’re stabbed in the back.
Maintain positive feelings to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
SUBSCRIBE: Have a Leadership Mint delivered to your E-mail every business day.
It’s free. Just click the SIGN ME UP box in the upper left column.