Have you ever said this?

Well, if not with your outside voice – how about your inside voice?  I’ll admit it, I have! In some cases, it was warranted, but others; my impatience COULD have been acting out!

The #1 Most Important Thing a Leader Can Do

Former Chrysler executive Lee Iacocca and many other successful leaders have used this phrase.  A modified version of this quote was used by US General George Patton in World War II, whose actual words were: “Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.”

Today, either of these two mantras might be appropriate as we look at how difficult challenges are being addressed in our organizations, communities, state and federal governments.

I, for one would NOT want the often-coveted positions of CEO, Governor or President.  Having said that, I still have an opinion about what “good” looks like in a leader.  And as a faithful follower of a good leader; I do want them to “Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way.”

If I had a dollar for every blog, article, podcast, webinar, seminar or workshop that addressed the topic of Leadership, I’d be a wealthier woman, and could spend ALL my time (instead of 90%) helping others become their best selves.

Since I don’t, I will add my name to the list of those who have gone before me in helping clarify what Leadership is, and what we can reasonably expect out of a leader, regardless of the domain.

Theodore Roosevelt has often been quoted as saying, “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”  This is my first and most important expectation of any leader. By the way, did I mention that all of us are leaders!

I understand, appreciate and can be patient with leaders as they go through a learning curve.  They may need to figure out and/or take actions to ensure they have the right people with the right skills on their team, or address challenges that they may not have experienced before.

These are skills and experience opportunities which can be overcome with humility, coaching, the right team, time, experience, and resilience.  What may be more difficult to overcome is a leader who doesn’t come across as caring about his or her people. The good news is, it CAN be done!

Successful leaders recognize that becoming their best selves is important, but they don’t stop there. They are keenly aware that creating an environment where all others can become their best selves is what sets them apart from their competition.

Although we might feel the need to “fix” everything or make people feel better; this may not be what is wanted or needed at the time, or with every person. How can a leader show they care in today’s uncertainty, without stepping over the line?

Regular check-ins, not just about the work, but about the person, are critical. 

Even though we may not know what someone is going through, the conversation (as opposed to email) can easily start with, “I was just wondering how are you doing and wanted to check in.”

The team member could be a single parent who is working from home now trying to do their job AND balance a home and family. Perhaps always hard, but made harder with the kids now home 24/7. Someone else could be concerned about an aging parent with possible pre-existing health issues who is afraid to go out … even to the doctor.

Others may be having financial worries about job security, or being able to pay the rent or mortgage if the household’s income has been reduced, or in extreme cases …. being able to feed their family.

Asking, listening, being empathetic are all ways to show we care. 

Now is the time for each of us, as leaders to show we care…Let’s don’t wait for the one – let’s be the one!

Join me next time to hear about other key Leadership Success Factors.

Until we meet again, Lead, Follow or Get out of the Way!


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  1. Sheryl Roush

    So many insights in this one post, Joan! I can apply these strategies and ideas to a couple of non-profit organizations on which I serve on the Board. Thank you!

    1. Joan Clark

      Sheryl, thanks for your kind words! I am glad you found the content helpful. I’d love to hear more about your experiences as you apply some of these strategies! Best – Joan

  2. Paul D. Brubaker

    So true always, Joan, but magnified in our current environment. Thanks for sharing this important thought with us (me) today. They won’t know that I care unless I show that I care through my questions, my listening, and my actions. I appreciate the reminder!

  3. Joan

    Paul, thanks for your comments. You are already a good example of what good looks like in a leader! Keep up the good work! Best jc

  4. I don’t think the title of your article matches the content lol. Just kidding, mainly because I had some doubts after reading the article.

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