ABC. 123. Do Re Mi. These are elements we are all familiar
with. Elements that denote simplicity,
basics and foundations for greater, more complex concepts.
You might even say, that the song ABC,
performed by Michael Jackson, was the foundation for much of what Pop Music has
Everything starts with the basics. Even leadership.
Leadership can get quite complicated if we
don’t begin with the right foundation, a foundation of principles I call “The ABC’s of Leadership”
Many years ago, I was the leader for an
organization of young women ages 12-18.
We were organizing an event, and each of these young women had an
assignment that was integral to the success of the event. One hour prior to the event, Heather’s mother
“Heather won’t be coming to the event
tonight”, she said.
My panicked reply was, “But Heather was
assigned to bring the ingredients for our main dish”.
Heather’s mother replied, “Well, she won’t be attending, and I won’t
be bringing her assigned items. I guess
that’s just some of the challenges of being a leader”. Click.
I learned a few things about this interaction:
1. This young
woman was not dependable. (Perhaps her mother served as an example for that).
2. This young woman was not accountable.
Accountability is the characteristic of
being accountable. A leader that is accountable feels responsible for the outcome, both good and bad, of a situation. Accountability requires not blaming others, but always
looking for a way that a better outcome can be achieved, despite the failings
In the case of Heather, clearly she didn’t
fulfil her responsibility, but I was the one that would be viewed as
responsible for the outcome of our planned event. Perhaps, it was even my fault that Heather
didn’t follow through. Perhaps I had not
communicated properly to her. Clearly, I had failed to get Heather’s buy in.
Heather’s mother was right: I was being challenge as a leader.
After a few deep breaths, I made a few calls, worked out some deals, and made sure we had what we
needed for our event. It wasn’t easy, but I had maintained my ACCOUNTABILITY.
If you want others to see
you as a leader, then you must conquer the first characteristic of basic
The second characteristic of basic
leadership is: BOLDNESS
Resolute; Chutzpah; Courage, whatever you call it, boldness requires
a willingness to step outside the box, try something new, and even take a little risk.
The band K.I.S.S. had a pretty good handle on BOLDNESS.
You don’t have to wear heavy makeup, or be a rock star to be bold, however. Here are 5 easy steps to becoming more BOLD in your leadership:
1. Don’t hesitate – make the
first move. A wrong decision is usually
better than no decision.
2. Be unpredictable. Take a little risk. I guarantee you’ll get a different reaction than normal from those who know you best.
3. Get rid of pretense – be yourself,
and delight in your weirdness.
4. Act as though you already are
what you want to be.
5. Say no to what you really
don’t want to do.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it…for boldness has
genius, power and magic in it.“
BOLDNESS is the second characteristic of the ABC’s of
Without Commitment in leadership, accountability and
boldness won’t matter.
Once there was a
skinny, awkward kid from New Jersey named Eugene Orowitz. He was
painfully shy and very self-conscious. Although Eugene greatly lacked
self-confidence, when a high school coach half-jokingly asked him to try out
for the track team, Eugene took him up on it.
“Ugy,” as his friends affectionately
called him, fell in love with javelin throwing and committed himself to
being the best that he could possibly be. What Ugy lacked in
self-confidence, he made up for in commitment.
By the time he graduated high
school, Eugene had achieved a national High School record (for throwing the
javelin 211 yards). His commitment to being the best also bought him a
college track scholarship in sunny California!
A torn shoulder muscle ended
his javelin-throwing career and any hope of making the Olympic team.
However, while watching a play, Ugy fell in love with acting. So, again,
he committed himself to being the best he could be. He was determined to
make it in the ridiculously over-crowded acting field, so he enrolled in acting
Eugene Orowitz, better known as
Michael Landon, went on to star in three of the most popular shows in
television history: Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, and Highway to
Michael Landon exhibited both boldness and commitment.
As a teenager, I always got a little “bold” when I watched Michael Landon play Little Joe Cartwright on Bonanza every day. (Be still, my heart!)
Little Joe never went down without a fight, and I challenge you to lead with COMMITMENT in the same way!
ABC’s of leadership:
Abc, easy as 123
Or simple as do, re, mi
Abc, 123, baby, you can lead!