Being a leadership coach I often have the privilege to be in the presence of future leaders. There is one question that I ask in every session, “Who is the leader that you emulate?” I get answers like, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and disappointingly………… Hitler. It happens session after session.
Regardless of how consistently it happens, it still saddens me to think that mankind can see something remarkable in a human like Hitler. It takes me a while to re-center myself but after I do, I ask a simple question, “Are you aware of how Hitler died?” There is a pregnant silence after which they say, “Suicide.”
“Leadership is action, not position.” – Donald H. McGannon
After this awareness is created, the participants always reconsider their stance that Hitler is a leader to be emulated. I heave a sigh of relief; there is hope for mankind ………..
Being a leader is about asking the tough questions – it is not about providing the answers but it is about the asking the questions that stimulate thinking. It is about knowing that your opinions go through continuous change as you enhance your awareness and learning through your journey in life.
“A leader’s role is to raise people’s aspirations for what they can become and to release their energies so they will try to get there.” – David R. Gergen
Recently we conducted a corporate training program for a large multi-national company. The topic was team building training for the new joinees. The objective of the program was to get the new comers ready for the disciplined life of a working professional.
There were about 200 trainees around the average age of 25. Within the first few minutes of the training we understood that a lot of them did not feel that they needed the training. Even though their supervisors were part of the training they were offensive in their directness and lack of commitment. They clearly lacked the hunger for growth and development. The learning was lack luster.
I asked myself, “What have we done to our next generation? Did the parents not have time to trigger the hunger pangs? Did they not romanticize achievement and hard work? Where did the education system go wrong?”
But I did not have the time to explore the root cause as the team building training was not going the way I envisioned. Something needed to be done and this needed to be bold and shocking. So in the midst of an activity I stopped the activity and asked everybody to think of an experience that was life changing. We then asked 4 volunteers to share. Suddenly the fighting energy was transformed to a pensive energy and the teams started to function more seamlessly.
When conducting corporate training it is important not to be rigid about covering the content but to sense the need of the group and provide accordingly.