With all the volatility in the human services industry, in many states, certainly in our country and in our world, it could be easy to question the impact that any one leader can have. That thought brought to mind the memory of a prominent business leader in my community who often said, “I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.”
Today, more than ever, we need anyone who would consider themself a leader to be somebody.
I’m not suggesting that you have to fix every problem or take on the world. But the only way we are going to eat the elephants before us is one bite at a time . . . and it’s time to get eating. Take a few minutes, right now, to consider one thing you can do this week to build a bridge with someone who sees things differently than you do — be that a government funder, a competitor, a staff member, a neighbor or member of your community. Take a step forward. It’s what leaders do.
Will your efforts always have the intended results? Nope. To quote Kent Keith http://www.paradoxicalcommandments.com (although often attributed to Mother Teresa), do it anyway. Leaders make decisions, and take action, for long-term gains not short-term popularity. Have you ever noticed that something as simple as a phone call or a single conversation can make a huge difference in a situation? One phone call. One moment of empathy. To focus on our common goals, rather than our different strategies to accomplish those goals. Do it. Be somebody.
Because here’s the thing . . . if you are in a leadership position, people are going to be watching you. And if you do one thing, regardless of how small, to positively impact a situation, others will see your example and be encouraged to do likewise. Heaven knows there are plenty of examples of people in leadership positions who have taken shortcuts, or checked their values at the door, only to have those who followed them to feel justified in doing likewise. The same concept works in reverse. When you extend a hand rather than build a wall, others will notice and do likewise. Be somebody.
Yes, I know you’re busy. You don’t have time to put one more thing on your plate. Here’s the beauty of what I am suggesting. In the long-run, the investments you make in building bridges will save you time. Numerous research studies have verified the quantifiable positive impact of high-trust environments. That’s a big part of what we are missing today, isn’t it . . . trust? And you don’t gain trust with words, you gain it with actions. Leaders don’t look around for sometime else to take care of the challenges before them. They act. You can, too.