Leadership Listens!

Whether you’re more often a leader or a follower, you can supply the first ingredient for important change. Make someone aware of the problem. If you are able, make someone aware who has responsibility and/or input into the needed change.

If you’re responsible as a change agent, listen when someone makes you aware of a problem. Even if it does not relate directly to your current agenda, it could be a significant change for you and your organization. The near-sighted leader cares only about immediate, self-initiated plans. By continually looking at the broader picture, an effective leader knows which alerts to care about and to act upon.

A simple observation can avert organizational crisis or multiply success into abundance. Welcome someone who wants to make you aware. Know when, and when not, to care.

On Saturday morning I had an opportunity to change for the better. I WAS READY TO RUN! Or was I?

T-shirt and shorts—on. Running shoes—tied. Calves and hams—well stretched. Emergency phone number—tucked in one pocket. Stopwatch—tucked in the other.

As I walked through the living room, my son spoke to me with a tone of mild sympathy. “Dad, did you know that you have your mad-scientist hair right now?” He understands because he has inherited my mad-scientist hair.

My wife has straight, fine hair. Absolutely lovely. Three of our kids have her hair. One, however, wakes up looking like Albert Einstein, just as I do.

I could have heeded Reinhold Niebuhr’s words:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
“Courage to change the things I can,
“And wisdom to know the difference.

I could have heeded the similar words of Mother Goose:
“For every ailment under the sun
“There is a remedy, or there is none;
“If there be one, try to find it;
“If there be none, never mind it.”

Two elements fundamental to change are to be aware of the current situation and to care enough to make a change.

My son made me aware. I didn’t lack the “courage to change the things I can” as Neibuhr framed change. I didn’t need to “try to find” the remedy as Mother Goose urged. I simply didn’t care.

It was early Saturday morning, and I don’t much care what people think of me when I’m running. I ran my 10k with mad-scientist hair.

Another time he will tell me something that will be important to change. I will keep listening so that I don’t miss it.


About Ben Unseth

Executive Director at Project Understanding (2014-2017), social service agency in Ventura, CA
This entry was posted in communication, leadership and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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