He sat at the end of the table, listening to us intently but comfortably, as if every word we spoke gave him new meaning to everything he already knew. Sometimes he placed his elbows on the table, two fingers from his right hand resting on his cheek. Sometimes his hand were in his lap, his sitting posture impervious to slump. Regardless of his physical demeanor, his focal strength was immediate and sure, the conflux moment into moment his to share with us.
When he spoke, it was deliberate and sure, not rushed, and with the calming intensity of the still sea and the layered rip tide underneath. However, he was collaborative and inclusive, nodding lightly in approval or shaking slowly when he didn’t. To anyone walking in you’d think he was another employee, but after a few minutes it was crystal clear he was a leader.
He was the CEO. One who had run multiple business divisions and companies in his tenure. Maybe not all successfully; that is detail I may never know and certainly can’t glean from his bio, but it doesn’t matter. He lives in the moment of perpetual personal responsibility as a business leader (and I’ll bet in his “real” life too). He owns each moment and decision made within, bending them with his will without breaking and sharing his well-lighted way.
I’ve seen this before in both genders, many iterations and in many different capacities — they’re not always a CEO. Maybe an individual contributor or a project leader. Maybe a floor salesperson in a retail shop or a floor supervisor in a manufacturing plant.
We attribute many different adjectives to those great leaders around us — all of which were shared during last night’s #TChat about Developing Leaders with Innovative Mindset. I missed #TChat last night, but did read through the transcript and continue to be moved and schooled by such a diverse group of brilliant “self-leaders”. I missed last night because I was meeting with that above CEO and his team discussing marketplace strategy around launching yet another innovative HR B2B technology into the world.
His team seemed to emulate him, and him them, and in between there was a sense that we could do anything, that we could make this highly successful and lucrative for us all. We were all leaders in our own respective roles and solopreneur realms.
Even in the most progressively flattened management structures, there are still peaks and valleys, oceans and deserts. Remember, the world isn’t flat. It’s imperfectly round; like the best leaders, who are also mostly imperfectly well-rounded. The emotional intelligence soft skills of self-awareness and management as well as awareness and management of others around us, guiding self and others through the unknown of tomorrow’s business while owning the well-lighted moments of today — these are the skills learned early on and no other adjective can touch them, no other man or woman bring them to bare unless they’re already there.
Britain’s King George VI in a December, 1939, radio address quoted a poem by Marie Louise Haskins, “I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.'”
I’ll quote another successful musician and writer, Neil Peart, “Seems to me you have to bring that light yourself.”