I was observing my 12 year old daughter as she was going through the tribulations of a middle school student council election this week and realized an important thing about leadership. It’s challenging when you are doing something that is groundbreaking and public and you don’t have peers that you can talk to about the ‘thing’.
This was brought home when my daughter was having challenges with the competitive part of campaigning and was getting down. This was a case where the people that were experiencing this were three – her and her two challengers, yet the whole school was watching what was going on in the campaign between them. Very public yet a very private experience.
As her energy was starting to wear down from the negativity her sister called her and gave her a pep talk. The talk went along the lines of – ‘you’re doing great, this is normal, and you are taking the high road and learning from the experience, keep going’. This little talk from someone that she respects seems to have done wonders for her efforts and psyche and she is back in the fight.
How often does this parallel happen in the workplace and how often do we not pay attention to the needs and challenges of those that are trying to ‘push the edge’. Often people believe that those in leadership positions or on leading, tough projects are strong enough to do it on their own. It’s important to realize that a true leader (including leaders that aren’t managers) remembers to pay attention to those working at the edge and reinforce their efforts. It’s even more true when those efforts are groundbreaking, public, and difficult to do.