I learned a lot about fear and crisis this week. On Monday morning, I learned my beloved dog, Canyon, was seriously ill. For about 12 hours, a likely diagnosis was an aggressive and deadly form of cancer. Then, I learned comparatively good news…there was a tumor on his heart. The good news was it was operable and if all was successful, he’d be fine. (FYI– a successful surgery was performed Friday and as I write this blog, I am awaiting word from the UM Vet clinic that he can come home.)
So, what were my lessons learned? Several were personal but many more were also examples of leadership in crisis, something many of you can relate to in these tough economic times.
1) The power of community. I have rarely felt as surrounded by positive thinkers and loving support as I have this week. Emails and phone calls came from everywhere and those positive thoughts made a huge difference. I have to admit, I was NOT optimistic, long before I knew for sure what the diagnosis would be. The community that surrounded me believed what I could not and acted AS IF the best was possible. As a leader, your beliefs matter. They set the tone for your organization but don’t believe everything you think!
2) The necessity of asking for help, and delegating. I was out of town while the diagnosis was being finalized. Of course, I felt it was MY responsibility to be there, yet several capable and caring individuals stepped in, keeping me informed, communicating information, and in some cases, making some decisions they knew I’d make. As a leader, you alone can not “fix” what is wrong. You can’t be directly involved in every meeting, no matter how critical. You must be clear about your expectations and trust others to act on your behalf.
3) Excellence, coupled with humanity, was what I desperately wanted from my team of vet health professionals. They had confidence in their skills and I felt it. Then, they completed a rare and complex surgical procedure with the best possible outcome. They communicated with me throughout the surgery and every couple hours afterward, providing me with updates and more good news. As a leader, hiring the best talent and letting them do their jobs, with input and attention, is what you can do best. And, wanting the best work delivered with emotional intelligence is even better!
Leadership lessons come from everywhere, personal and professional. Like many, we wish there were other ways to learn them, but learning from them counts.
– Barb Krantz Taylor