“If you don’t act,
irrelevance is where you are headed”
I was sitting in Church recently listening to our Pastor deliver his homily when I heard him say that many of you could be in the category of “ineffective and irrelevant” if you have not stood up and engaged what you believe in.
As a leader, this is one category that I work hard to stay out of or ever being connected to. The more I thought on these two simple words, the more I believed it was something that all effective leaders must always being working to stay away from.
Even in retirement, I have fought to stay out of this category by staying connected in the areas of leadership that I am passionate about and engaging the people who are doing those things now. While I was actively leading, I was passionate about ethics, morals, and values and how they fit into the organizations, people, and also the missions we were tasked to accomplish. I also aggressively pursued professional development at all levels for myself, for those on-track upward, and at the appropriate level, for all members of the organization. I have always maintained that if you were engaging professional development, you were fighting irrelevancy and ineffectiveness face-to-face!
Do it with passion, or not at all. ~ Anonymous
So, how do leaders ensure these two enemies don’t creep into their world? An engaged and focused mindset is necessary. Your leadership passions provide this and we each have them. Recognizing them, pursing them, and engaging them in your daily life will help keep the dreaded “double I (ineffective and irrelevant)” from showing up.
Secondly, a passion for people and the mission are extremely effective tools for double-I avoidance. People are the double-edged sword of leadership. You love them, the encourage, challenge, and engage the leader in you but they can also frustrate, confuse, and discourage you. Leaders clearly understand this people-piece and for most it is the energy and motivation that drives us.
Mission accomplishment is always the perpetual motion machine of the leader. Once we bought into it, it consumed us and our waking and sometimes sleepless moments were spent in quest of making it happen. For me, my mission for many years was about making fighter aircraft fly. When I was young in my career specialty, it was about getting the airplane fixed and ready to fly. My sense of accomplishment came from seeing empty space in our hangar at the end of the duty day. As I matured and became a leader, that accomplishment came from all the flying sorties for the day being accomplished and my people having been a huge piece of that outcome. Double-I had no place in that ever-turning and fast paced work life.
Later as a senior leader, I repelled double-I by preparing and growing people to lead others. I found that anytime you are engaged in people-work that moves them forward and offers potential and opportunity, the energy, momentum, and challenges create their own double-I avoidance.
As you think about this today, do a quick refresh that I have always found to work. Go visit one of your people or groups. Not one that you typically go to but one that you know needs to see you and maybe hear from you as well. It will inject you with energy and rekindle your passion and the effect on those you interact with will be even greater. The dreaded double-I will be banished as your energy, motivation, and passion will be topped-off. Most likely, you will also pick-up some mission and people-focused nuggets to engage when you get back to your workspace.
Each of us has a place where we get our energy, passion, and motivation refreshed and renewed. ~ Anonymous
In my later leadership pursuits, when I was submerged in the leadership duties of K-12 education, sometimes when frustration, angst, and negative people-stuff had gripped me, I would jump up and head for the nearest kindergarten room. In that room, at every minute of every day, there was energy, motivation, and growth in motion. All the “stuff” that leads to double-I was banished and all the “stuff” I needed to refocus, clarify, and remotivate for the people and the mission was there too. You may not have a kindergarten classroom handy but you have an environment and the people that can do the same thing for your leadership.
Ineffective and Irrelevant don’t get much time nor energy in my world, hopefully, they get even less in yours! Stay strong and lead well.