I have come to believe the best way to determine that which is truly important to an individual is by taking a hard look at how he allocates time and what activities she chooses to put on her calendar. While paying personal attention to the same, I have witnessed changes in my own development and effectiveness, as I also become more aware of those around me. In doing so, I have grown disappointed in more than a few of my colleagues, caught myself losing focus on more than one occasion, and identified a few individuals (both senior and junior) worthy of emulation. As leaders, we are often times overly focused on mission accomplishment. Whether we choose to believe it or not, the HOW that leads us and our team toward accomplishing our mission defines who we become over time, both as individuals and as a team. It also serves as a metric for how long we might be able to deliver similar results.
Every action we take today shapes our future self. If we identify who it is we want to become over time, commit to purposeful self-awareness, and care enough about ourselves to be personally accountable, it is rather simple to validate our path or correct our course on a daily basis. Some observations of late that are not as obvious as we like to think include...
1) If we truly want to be healthy, we will eat properly and exercise regularly.
- Eating poorly and living a sedentary lifestyle is our way of accepting a future self that is fat and sick.
2) If we are truly committed to building a culture of teamwork, we will create opportunities to work with others, we will seek feedback from all willing to give it, we will create opportunities to both teach and learn from others, and we will express our appreciation to those who care enough about the team to do the same.
- Not doing the above is our way of communicating that putting self before team is both a characteristic we condone and a trait we want to encourage.
3) If the people with whom we serve truly are a priority, we will be supportive of them in a time of need; we will be mindful of their goals and help them to reach the same; we will hold both them and ourselves accountable to exceeding the standard; and we will create opportunities to engage in meaningful dialogue with them.
- Failing to do any one of these things makes the phrase "people are our greatest asset" (and I hear that a lot) a hollow promise and diminishes the trust we have in those who fail to deliver.
Over the course of my ongoing experiment of being hyper aware of those in my professional life and equally critical of myself, I have assessed that too many people live a life of contradiction. We say we value one thing and our actions state something very different. In essence, we are blind to our authentic selves.
As leaders we have a responsibility to be deliberate about developing the attributes of our team with an eye toward the future. What specific attributes do we want to become commonplace across our team over time and are we exemplifying them? How do we use today to help all to grow in that direction? How do we get those who don't seem to have the capacity to embrace the ideals we value to find another team?
Ghandi is known to have said, "Be the change that you wish to see in the world." He did not say "Talk of the change you wish to see in the world and then act in opposition", nor did he say "Accept those who act contrary to the change you wish to see in the world." Be as you wish to become and help others to to do the same. The decisions we make and the actions we take today, determine who we will become tomorrow. Let's be consistent, deliberate, and purposeful.