What does it take to be an authentic, emotionally committed leader? You need to know who you are so that you can know what you believe and where you stand. This is not easy especially given that in any small space in our busy life, we take out our cell phone to check messages. What happened to the stillness of reflection?
Where did we lose the quiet moment? That quiet moment in which we might hear something or see something that we need to see. Perhaps it’s the sound of birds or the wind in the trees. Perhaps its our child needing to sit in our lap. What happened to us that we now think that we have to be checking every moment to see if someone wants us or someone needs us. Or is it the gratification that we are important because we have so many emails in our box?
You need to be still. Why? This is your one and only precious life. As a leader, you are given the opportunity to influence others. What comes with that is the moral obligation to touch others with your own humanity. Aristotle, in his Nichomachaen Ethics, said that, “Morality cannot be learnt simply by reading a treatise on virtue. The spirit of morality is awakened in the individual only through the witness and conduct of a moral person”.Be still and know. Find out what matters to you by being still and listening to yourself. This is a moral thing to do.
For you this may be the quiet of early morning sipping a fresh cup of coffee. For others it may be a walk along a quiet path or on a beach. It may be reflecting for a few moments after reading a good book. Still others may be
more determined and focused. They may decide to meditate and let the silence calm and speak to them. To meditate is a wonderful thing. It allows you to be still and know who you are.
Watch Jack Kornfield, an esteemed western Buddhist teacher talk about meditation.
Who was she this southern black girl born in the 5th Ward of Houston, Texas? A president, a governor, congress men and women attended her funeral. “When she walked in the room, she made you want to do something for her” “She embodied the word integrity”.
In a world that sways on the winds of trends and polls and prognostications she was a constant and she was as true as the north star. Barbara Jordan was an American original and a national treasure. And she was my friend. Ann Richards, Former governor of Texas.
Barbara Jordon was the epitome of the emotionally committed leader. She stood on the platform of integrity and enormous character. People who heard her speak knew they were listening to someone great. Great leaders move us. They ignite our passion and inspire the best in us. When we try to explain why they are so effective, we speak of strategy, vision, or powerful ideas. But the reality is much more primal. No matter what leaders set out to do—whether it’s creating strategy or mobilizing teams to action—their success depends on how they do it. Even if they get everything else just right, if leaders fail in this primal task of driving emotions in the right direction, nothing they do will work as well as it could or should.
This emotional task of the leader is primal. First it is the ground of being. You must not be separate from what you believe. You must own it, not to persuade others but to own who you are and what you stand for. It is both the original and the most important act of leadership. When you embody what you believe then you become emotionally compelling. In any moment in history or in the present the leader in any human group has been the one to whom others look for assurance and clarity when facing uncertainty or threat, or when there’s a job to be done.
Enjoy this clip of Barbara Jordon bringing emotional and ethical clarity to the Watergate hearings.
It is commonly thought in many organizations that to have commitment from employees there needs to be a set of values that people can believe in. These values will engender loyalty and enthusiasm from employees and have a direct effect on the bottom line. This set of values is thought to be the central core of the business. Care and energy is given to naming these values and to make sure that they are well known through out the organization. Even though values are important to an organization, there is something missing here.
People bring their own values to work. If you find that you can freely live your values in your working life then you are going to be truly committed to that organization. Being truly committed to your work means that you are going to make sure that it succeeds because if fuels and nourishes you.
This point is subtle and more often than not overlooked. Emotionally committed leaders are not just aware and present, they understand the subtle difference between hoping people will adhere to corporate values and making sure that people can express and live their own values. It’s called integrity. The first cause can’t always be the company. In fact the first cause for emotionally committed leaders is to make sure that it is safe to bring your own humanity to work.