It has taken me a many years to really figure this one out.  You see I grew up as a child of the 6o’s.  It was the end of the baby boom and a time when our parents and America’s youth were stepping forward for things they believed in.  We banded together to protest wars, discrimination, and injustice.

A college education followed by a six-figure plus career were goals to strive for along with a fast car and all the other trappings of success.

We lived the high life as DINKs (double income – no kids) and then settled down to raise families, coach soccer, and build up that 401K the investment advisors all promised would give us the lifestyle we deserved when we reached our golden years.  One way or another it ways all about us. What we wanted.  What our goals were. What we believed in.  Some called us the “me” generation.  Others labeled it “we”.  but one way or another the focus on self was always part of the equation.

It was at the beginning of my first “official” leadership role, a number of years ago, that I got the first news flash.  After finishing my first team meeting where I had laid out the mission and vision for MY team, my boss took me aside and calmly explained that

as a leader – it is not about you. The team has to embrace the vision, develop the goals, and execute on them.  A leader’s job is to  clear the way so they can do so and to  help them get what they need to get the job done. Equally important”, he said, “after they succeed, the leader’s job to to give credit where credit is due – to the team.”

I wish I could say that I am a perfect leader.  Of, course I am not even close.

Perfect leaders are hard to find.  Yet, as I look around I wish there were some.  The world would be better for it.

Perhaps our elected leaders could benefit from this news flash.  Just imagine if instead of focusing on getting re-elected,  they concentrated their energies on clearing the way so that the American people could do what needs to be done to truly turn things around. Or, envision where our economy might be if  more business leaders truly focused on doing the same for their teams, their investors and their customers.  We probably would be in a better place than we find ourselves in today.

But since perfection is unlikely, maybe the answer for each of us as leaders is to spend a little less time looking at our personal vision boards, self-help videos, mind maps or Google alerts and to simply try to remind ourselves from time to time what leadership is all about.  It does not require a book, a pod cast, a guru or a personal coach.  It’s much simpler than that.

Just stand in front of a mirror and tell the person you see … “it’s not about you.”

Hmm, maybe I need to try that more often.

Thanks for stopping by for a little life story.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

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