“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”
Okay, this is the last strength in the virtue of justice and as far as I am concerned the most important one. If we lead by example, if we live the change we want to see around us, then we will influence change. Positivity is contagious. I think I have mentioned this point before.
Who are your leaders?
Now at the risk of tarnishing someone’s street cred, I am willing to guess that whether you loved or hated school, you had that one favourite teacher who got your grades up. Whether you were a rebel with or without a cause, you still had a favourite aunt or uncle you respected, even emulated. Even now in a world where the term BFF (Best Friend Forever for those pretending not to know) is reserved for self-obsessed teenagers I know you have one. You have that one friend who just inspires you more than anyone else and whose opinion matters to you.
Some people even have an awesome boss. These are rare unicorn people, but they do exist. If you have a mug that says “best boss ever”, do not congratulate yourself just yet. Your staff can’t exactly buy you a mug that says Dou… you know what? Never mind. Let us focus on leadership as a strength and see whether you have earned your mug. If you are working for a not so nice boss right now, send him an anonymous link to my blog, and I will see what I can do for you. No promises. As the joke goes, how many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? None, but the light bulb must want to change. Yes, I know, comedy is not my strength, but more on that later.
Qualities of Good leaders
Think about what qualities that teacher, aunt or uncle, friend or boss have. What was it about them that makes them stand out from the rest? Do you see a pattern emerge? Let me try my hand at mind-reading. Did they tend to be more reasonable than unreasonable in their approaches? Their personality style was more flexible than dogmatic and were they energetic in their mannerisms. They noticed and acknowledged your strengths and they were appreciative of the effort. Does not mean they were not assertive, goalless or asinine. It also does not mean that they were liked by all. Likability is not a synonym for leadership.
Why is leadership so important during this time of isolation, because a good leader gets everyone else to act in ways that achieve a mutually beneficial goal. Remember the goals we set out right at the beginning? Good leadership is how you get there. If you are familiar with Winnie the Pooh then you will know Christopher Robin is an excellent leader. All the toys jump at the opportunity to join him in any ‘expoitation’ of his choosing. Why? He allows them the space to be themselves and do things their own way, because that way, they all reach the desired result together. Good leadership promotes good citizenship and good leaders are fair. See, it is all related.
Are you a good leader?
Use this time to reflect on who you are living with. What personalities do they have? How do they match and differ from you? What are their strengths? How do your strengths compensate for their weaknesses and how do their strengths compensate for your weaknesses? Get to know one another on a new level. Make conversations meaningful and do the same to those you are virtually contacting.
Forget the expression too many chefs spoil the broth. You are not making soup anyway, or maybe you are, but the analogy is still not valid. You are a human being with wonderful flaws. Embrace them by using the other wonderfully flawed people around you to fill in the gaps. If you are parents or grandparents, use this time to teach children about great leadership. To those who are alone, now is your chance to be that aunt, uncle or friend that someone else will see as a great leader one day. If you are a boss or a manager, well then you have no excuse. Get to know your staff on a deeper level. Find their strengths and use them. Know when you don’t know and find the person who does.
Why is leadership a strength?
Let me leave you with this example of what I mean. My husband, featured with his friend Alan Paterson in the picture above, is one of those people who LOVES people. I mean he is just a collar away from being a golden retriever. He knows a lot about different topics because he listens and retains what other people say to him. He genuinely cares about people and what they say. They motivate him. If you stick my husband in a back office to do coding all day or paperwork, you will slowly but surely dampen his natural enthusiasm because you are not using his strength. Place him among people and let him teach as much as he learns and you will extract a remarkable quality of work out of him.
I hope that now as we move on to our new virtue and new strengths, you will continue to practice citizenship, fairness and good leadership at home. I also hope that you are having fun with the Virtue of Justice Activity and posting the results of your efforts on my blog.