Leadership: Be Careful … It’s a Jungle Out There!
Many years a go Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company sponsored a show called The Wild Kingdom. It was a show hosted by Marlin Perkins along with his co-host, Jim Fowler. Each an every Sunday night they took their audiences on amazing animal adventures around the globe. As a child, I remember gluing myself to the tube and being utterly fascinated by these amazing stories in … The Wild Kingdom!
Marlin, the older gentlemen, was the narrator and Jim always seemed to be the one doing all the dangerous stuff. It always seemed to me that Marlins’ narratives should include statements like, “I hid behind the rock while Jim wrestled the grizzly bear.” or “I stayed in the jeep while Jim fought back the pack of wild wolves.” I refer to this as The Mutual of Omaha Leadership Style.
So what does this story have to do with leadership?
- Being a leader means that you are out on the front-line. It means that when things go wrong they look to you, the leader, and ask, “What happened? How could this go wrong? How did we lose this one?” Hiding behind the rock and letting your people wrestle the lion, the cheetah, the president, or the competition, isn’t being a leader. As a leader you have to take responsibility for what is or isn’t happening in your department.
- When you are a leader there will always be hundred people who are not leaders that will tell you how to lead. They hide behind the rocks and tell people what they should’ve done (after the fact) or what they should do now, even though they have never put their neck on the line or have been in a similar situation.
- As a leader you have to decide who to listen to and who not to listen to. Stay away from people who offer advice you didn’t ask for. Sometimes the person you need to listen to most … is yourself. Think about the times when you didn’t follow your gut and it blew up in your face. Think about the times you trusted your gut and it worked out perfectly.
Being a leader isn’t always easy. There will always be plenty of folks with 100 different opinions who think they know what’s best for you and everyone else. They will abandon you in the thick of things and chum up next to you after the danger has passed or the votes have been cast. They play it safe and hide behind rocks until they know it’s safe to come out or to offer an opinion that requires no risk on their part.
So when it comes to being a leader … where do you stand?