There’s a scene near the end of the movie Miracle about the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team, which won a surprising gold medal and defeated the then-dominant Russian team who had held a worldwide dominance for 2 decades. The coach, played by actor Kurt Russell, walks into the locker room to give his rally speech. The whole series of events of how that coach led that team to victory, is the essence of leadership for me. This involved many intersecting axes.
Believing in the team so they could believe in themselves.
Not being their friend.
Nonetheless operating from a place of deep kindness and care.
Finding unorthodox ways to fire up the team when necessary.
Taking time to teach when necessary, or show appreciation when necessary, or demonstrate impatience when necessary.
Always keeping the pressure on.
When I lead, it’s my aspiration to be that kind of leader. Someone people look up to automatically, perhaps without even knowing they do.
I choose to be a leader because of the opportunity to make a positive impact on people. I believe when people are well managed and happy in their work, they bring that out into their homes and communities and there is more light in the world. I was granted gifts in this area of leadership, so it is incumbent on me to develop myself and leverage my skills, to enable more light.
The challenge I face is knowing what to do in the individual moments as they are passing by. I need a vivid vision to ground me. I need support from trusted advisors to encourage and challenge me. And I wish for more skills and more practice to add tools into my toolbox and know which ones to use in which situations. My deepest anxiety is a feeling of perpetual under-preparedness.
The rally speech given by Kurt Russell was preceded by a quiet walk into the room, a reassuring pat on the shoulder to a team member. Then the simple statement that what the team had in front of them that night was an opportunity – an opportunity they had earned through focus and hard work. It was up to them to choose what they would do with that opportunity. Ultimately, the leader I aspire to be is someone who helps individual contributors mesh into high-performing teams or communities; helps them believe in themselves that they can accomplish incredible things; leads them into positions where they earn remarkable opportunities; and sets them loose to choose what they will do in those moments.