A leader is always operating on the edge. Talking to you: entrepreneurs, founders, CEOs, C-suite denizens, departmental leaders, and students of leadership.
When I was in those positions, I never thought it was lonely at the top, but when people say it is — this is what they are talking about. Being alone with your thoughts, your duties, your responsibilities, your decisions — good ones, bad ones.
Today it is perfectly fine to feel the press of fear. I would be surprised if you didn’t feel fear today. We are facing monumental changes and the fellow traveler of change is fear.
Fear is an emotion. It is an instant in time. It is fleeting. We can banish it. It does not define us.
As a leader, you can feel fear, but you cannot run your organization on it.
When we talked about energy balance:
we identified some things that consume energy. Fear is the ultimate energy consumer. It immobilizes you.
As a leader, you have to be careful about how your thoughts translate into words, how your words translate into actions, and how those actions become subconscious examples that inform the organizations, that season the culture.
They will follow you — whether you are headed to the high ground or the edge of the cliff.
If you act fearful, then the team will pick it up and they will become timid, cautious, lacking in confidence, second guessing everything — exactly when we may all require some vigorous leadership to cut a new path, to blaze a trail we’ve never trod upon.
In a study of men who had won the Medal of Honor, the commonest universal trait is that they became angry and then translated that anger into action. Whilst others were immobilized, turned to stone — these guys got mad, used that energy, and did heroic things.
I am not asking you to be a hero, but I am asking you to act like one.
I am asking you to do the following:
Compartmentalize your fear. Go ahead, explore that dark corner of your mind, let it marinate, but limit when and how you do it. You are responsible for your own mental health.
Do not spread fear within your organization. It is as viral as the COVID19. Kill it. Don’t tolerate it.
Refuse to run your organization in a fearful manner. Do not multiply the impact of fear by dwelling on it.
Understand that the way you act will impact the way your people act. Part of leadership is acting the part. Come to work early, stay late, work hard, talk to your people.
Make sure your people stay busy, focus on the future, understand there is not a “normal” that will return and everything you have endured is going to disappear.
Focus on small victories. Cut the stench of fear with the heady bouquet of victory.
Turn fear into action. Just like those MOH winners did — get mad, act. Win.
In these turbulent times, it will never hurt to open each day on your knees. Slide out of bed, onto your knees.
Your prayer is not to make the problem go away. It is to ask God to give you the grace to deal with the challenges you face. He will give you the grace and you will prevail. All you have to do is ask.
We are America. We are equal to every challenge mankind has ever experienced. We will knock this COVID19 on its ass. You will survive — big thing: you HAVE survived everything life has thrown at you thus far, right?
If you get in a bind, drop me an email, call me. I’ve seen a lot of stuff in 33 years of CEO-ing and 8 years working with CEOs. Know this — I can already see to the sunlight, I can smell the dawn. I can see over the horizon to the future, to the re-emergence of the country. We’re going to be fine. Don’t be afraid of the future. It’s coming.