Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Leadership Influence: Are you "Choosy Water" or "Rough Diamond"

Leadership is about moving forward-like water; developing a strategy-like a blueprint; setting an example-like a diamond...

We live in a complex reality, and most of the things appear to be "beyond our control" as we become aware of our limits. This is not necessarily bad. The leader is in control in the face of adversity based upon the principles that the world's finest leaders move forward with some substance of caring, consideration for the current external/internal conditions and plan for recovery.

 Metaphorically, what does leadership look like? A test of our leadership skills-who is in control in the face of adversity? Are you a “Choosy Water” or a “Rough Diamond”?

Choosy water- character is nature, but can be refined: Water is liquid under given conditions of temperature and pressure, the volume, purity, the seasons of the river, the melting of snow and the dropping iceberg...Lao Tzu says that “superior virtue is like water.” “Water attitude” is a good analogy to depict leadership. Authentic leadership comes with the “natural” attitude. Those who react in hard times are those who are “like water”: Water is not choosy, has no judgmental attitude, does not strictly rely on procedures to take actions. At any time water naturally knows what the best place and the best way are, so water is obtained without effort and despite all efforts we produce against. Such metaphor drives us to think about flexibility, adaptability, ability of interaction, motivation skills, problem solving and resilience. Those are all great qualities of high-effective leadership.

In the big ocean, water is perhaps struggling - the rolling waves or seasoning tides...Crisis and disasters have a way of letting us know that there are times in life that we can't control the events nor outcome; the only thing we can control are our thoughts, attitude, and how we react and respond to each moment at hand. Water acts “naturally,” occupying any free spot and place, while indeed, Lao Tzu would probably have said “we that are earth,” do need techniques, procedures, policies and engage rules to operate with waters. With the latest technologies and methodologies, we build reservoirs or dams, to preserve or use water in a smart way. In fact, leadership is perhaps also like choosy water, we set principles, optimize processes, and develop the best and next practices to improve leadership maturity.

Character as our heart blueprint and mind mirror: The intensity of darkness varies with each of us and so is our understanding and action under the same conditions. Character is developed through adversity. That whatever challenge, crisis or disaster comes our way in life, we may find ourselves standing alone, left in charge to pick up the pieces. In those defining moments, when we stand alone, helpless over circumstances surrounding us, with no checklists of leadership to follow, no people to count on, we better know who we are, who we trust and believe in. Those very moments define our character - who we are, character is our heart blueprint and mind mirror.

People have different characters (half perception, half personality). It is human nature for each of us to trip/stumble over our own ego throughout life to keep us humble. Some are more resilient, they face the difficulty, and stand again. Such people would stand by their principles, are focused and live with a positive attitude. Crisis and disasters have a way of letting us know that there are times in life that we can't control the events nor outcome; the only thing we can control are our thoughts, feelings and how we react and respond to each moment at hand. Our character makes us who we are, but we always can keep learning, reasoning, and sharpen it to be strong.

A person’s character is as hard as a diamond, but will shine through when it gets polished: The beauty of a rough diamond is unrevealed to most viewers, awaiting a polishing by a master who has wise eyes to be able to see what lies beneath and technique skills to make it shine. It is only when it goes through the process of being cleaned, cultivated and refined, does it acquire the brilliance and elegance, and is considered of high value. In-depth understanding and character development are tested during periods of difficulty. The person then shows how strong his/her character, and the cognitive understanding of circumstances.

The leader should be authentic; the leader should be able to be rough (Character); the leader should be able to take responsibility and be accountable. Leadership growth comes from identifying opportunities, tailoring development and putting the appropriate level of effort into the process. Guidance and assistance along the way is critical, however, it is often missed or under emphasized. The brightness of character-based leadership is not flamboyant, but through the simple words with deep insight; the clear vision with laser focus, no intention to appear, but shining through substances: influence, intelligence, creativity, confidence, humility, accountability, resilience, etc.

Leadership is about moving forward, like water; developing a strategy, like a blueprint; setting an example, like a diamond...But leaders are humans, not perfect, with emotions. We all are human with human traits. Humans are great at improving their skills. We can learn through our own process, or learn from the examples of others. To be memorable as the catalyst for concerted efforts to achieve a common goal or achievement is a trait of leadership. Leadership is the influence, and a right mix of art and science.


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