Having kids is such a joy. You get to watch cartoons over and over again. So I have watched Disney’s The Lion King more times than I care to count. In one of my favorite scenes, there is a great lesson in leadership embedded in the message. When Simba is standing on a cliff trying to conjure up the courage to go back and assume his rightful place as King of the Lions. To take over and lead he will have to confess that he was the one who was responsible for the death of his father, Mufasa. As Simba is standing there in the clouds comes an image of his dead father with these haunting words. “Remember who you are, remember who you are.” That is the starting point for any leader. You need to know who you are; you need to know your strengths and be aware of your blind spots. Often no one will tell you what those are.
Focusing on Strengths vs. Weakness.
At one time in the life of organizations, it was popular to work long and hard to improve your areas of weakness. There is a huge benefit in knowing what you do not do well. How much value do you gain by focusing on trying to close that gap? You can spend lots of time and effort to fix something that you may never get better doing. For that reason, you many find it more beneficial to focus on your strengths. There are excellent tests to help you discover what your top five strengths are. Tools like:
Leaders need to be in a position to listen and learn from those they lead.
This story is a prime example of the leaders need to gather information from those around them. Then finding a way to use that information to make critical decisions.
In “Between Two Truths” Klyne Snodgrass shares this story. During World War II, Winston Churchill was forced to make a painful choice. The British secret service had broken the Nazi code and informed Churchill that the Germans were going to bomb Coventry. He had two alternatives: (1) evacuate the citizens and save hundreds of lives at the expense of indicating to the Germans that the code was broken. Or (2) take no action, which would kill hundreds but keeps the information flowing and possibly save many more lives. Churchill had to choose and followed the second course.
Leadership is never easy. The more important the cause, the more challenging the weight of your decisions. Leaders need to have the courage the make the tough decisions and be willing to live with the results. Leaders make decisions that affect the mission. Leaders, have to make decisions that involve staffing due to severe budget cuts. All while dealing with conflicts just to add to the mix.
Where many leaders fail is they become paralyzed by the fear of failure. Leaders either don’t act which leads to ineffective organizations. Or they make rash decisions without the support of other leaders. In either situation, deal leaders deal with the fallout often alone. Leadership is a delicate dance. When a general gets too far ahead of his troops, he’s often mistaken for the enemy. And likely to get shot. So know who you are, know what leadership resources you have around you and use those to your benefit. If all else fails, you could just follow this advice from James H. Boren. “When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout. When in charge, ponder. When in trouble, delegate. When in doubt, mumble.”