It is common to expect a leader to be strong and resolute in the face of conflict and adversity. A leader is to be well spoken, articulate and able to think fast on ones feet. A leader should be everything the rest of us can aspire to be. But I think the stigmatization of what a leader should and ought to be doesn't necessarily reflect what leadership should be in practice.
I've learned many lessons as one who has been involved since my first year at USM. I have failed and I have succeeded and I regret none of it. For while successes are nice to come by, failures present an opportunity to change and grow and strengthen the foundation from which future success is built upon.
This realization has only been solidified in the events which have unraveled in the past few weeks. Things were said, feelings were hurt, and a conflict arose as a result. In the first instance, I said nothing. I was not involved in the conversation and that was precisely the problem. Heated words were exchanged and I stood on the sidelines buried in rules and regulations, ignorant of the hostility which resulted in a person being verbally harmed. In a meeting with the individual who was verbally harmed, I apologized for not being an active bystander and for not intervening in a conversation that got way out of hand. I apologized for doing nothing when something needed to be done.
The second instance a week later occurred when I was in yet another meeting discussing how, exactly, do we solve and move beyond this problem. In this instance, I said too much. I was ignorant of the fact that not everyone else is like me in my temperament towards a problem. I told the individuals whose feelings were hurt to basically get over themselves and move on to improving the situation. Sounds brave doesn't it? Well, no.
In my rush to find a solution and resolve the conflict, I ignored the individuals feelings. Instead of coming alongside them and helping them, I wholly ignored the means in attempting to arrive at the ends. The individuals who had been hurt in this instance brought this to my attention and I apologized. The lesson I learned? Just because you deal with pain a different way doesn't mean that someone else deals with it the same way.
But the bigger lesson that has been reaffirmed in the past few weeks is a lesson in leadership. Yes, a leader can be strong and resolute. Yes, a leader can be well spoken, articulate, and fast on their feet. But I think the most important thing a leader should be is humble; willing to admit they are wrong when they are wrong and willing to improve even if, in their view, they had committed no wrong.
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