What book, poem, film, speech, painting, quote, story, or person (or whatever) continues to inspire your leadership?
What is it about this piece that inspires you and helps sustain you as a leader? In other words, tell me the story behind your selection.
Going the distance with people, and not in front of them, continues to sustain my leadership.
I had been back at work for two years following a close shave with cancer, and had managed to secure a senior post in relatively short time. From here I progressed to leading and managing. One of my tasks was to facilitate workshops for senior managers in my organisation, and it was at one of these that I told the story of the Race for Life.
I had arrived at the common in Southampton along with thousands of other women, some with memorial notices on their shirts depicting the faces of loved ones lost. Race for Life is an emotional occasion, and I noticed a lady quietly sitting with tears rolling down her face. I sat with her and asked her about her sadness.
She had terminal cancer, and had come to the Race with her husband and 4 year old daughter who had gone to find some ice cream. In spite of her pain, she chose to run the three kilometers, and I felt very humbled by her bravery. I offered to run with her, and she held out her hand. We ran the whole distance together hand in hand. When we crossed the finishing line, we did none of the air punching, or cheering you might expect. We just hugged each other and she said "thank you for giving me hope". She then left, and my family came over and gave me hugs and kisses. I never saw her again, but kept thinking about what she meant by giving her hope, because she had told me she was terminal. It wasn't until I told the story at the leadership class, thinking that this might inspire others to literally run the race in terms of leading groups, when someone piped up and said
"even when things seem desperate and hopeless, it's important to notice the people who need a hand, especially when you can be bothered to travel the distance with them."
That what sustains my leadership style. I don't want to look back at those following an "example", I want to work with them - I want to be bothered.