Author of Leading So People will Follow, Erika Andersen, makes a good point here: Most of us have been lucky enough to work with a great leader or two in our careers. And while we may treasure those experiences, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to acknowledge those solid people who have helped shape our careers and lives. In this guest post, Erika offers a solution to that problem…
Over the past few decades, I’ve had the chance to work with and get to know thousands of leaders at every level in dozens of organizations. I’ve often been inspired and touched by their struggles and triumphs. In fact, one of the things I most enjoyed about writing my new book, Leading So People Will Follow, was the opportunity it provided to publicly acknowledge a number of these folks for making the effort, every day, to be good and worthy leaders.
I decided early on in the writing process to select two exemplars for each of the six “accepted leader” attributes I discuss in the book. I felt that having real stories of their leadership would be both motivating and instructive for the reader. Because too often we talk as though there are no good leaders; as though all organizations are run by self-aggrandizing fools, everyone in public office is slick and cynical, and any person who’s in a position of power is corrupt.
But it’s not so. Most people have known at least one leader in their lives who called out the best in them; who felt like a strong, safe point around which the team or organization could coalesce; who made them feel like saying “I’m with you – let’s go!”
So let’s declare October 9th Fully Accepted Leader Day. If we have one day every year to publicly celebrate and thank the great leaders in our lives, perhaps that will become a catalyst for a shift in the conversation every day, toward the folks who are doing it right. Let’s start to acknowledge those people who we’ve experienced as consistently far-sighted, passionate, courageous, wise, generous, and trustworthy in guiding and directing us. It could be a parent, a coach, a teacher, or a manager. It could be the company CEO, or the executive assistant who organized a disaster relief effort single-handed. It could be someone who stepped up to fill a leadership void, or someone who shows up as a quiet, inspiring leader day in and day out.
This week, I encourage you to thank these people publicly: tell the world who they are, why they’re good leaders, and how that has impacted you. Share your story on Facebook, tweet about it, email it to your whole circle of friends, put up a montage of this person’s wonderfulness on Pinterest. Send an Instagram picture of him or her with a celebratory caption. Give the person kudos in a staff meeting. Send him or her a bottle of champagne and write, “you’re the best leader I ever had” on the box so the delivery person sees it. Get creative, share your gratitude, make it public!
Let’s let everyone know about the good, worthy, followable leaders who’ve inspired us, helped us grow, and made our lives better.
- Erika Andersen
A note from the editor: Acknowledgement can take many forms. The first 10 people to acknowledge your leader in the comments below and/or on Twitter using the hashtag #FALeaderDay will receive a copy of Leading So People Will Follow that you can keep for yourself or share with your favorite leader! Offer ends on midnight, October 9. Check back here on October 10, 2012 for a list of those who will receive a book!