In the New Year, I like to review the year past, to put perspective on life and the world. So this year I asked my friends on Facebook, and followers on Twitter for their perspective on leadership in 2011 – what were their most important leadership moments in 2011?
Most of the leadership moments were moments of personal leadership, finding the courage to deal with difficult situations. Some talked of the Arab spring, others about Stephen Harper. Interestingly, no one spoke of Barak Obama and Osama bin Ladin.
But the topic that raised the most spirited conversation was an example of failed leadership – the Occupy Movement. No matter what they think about the issues that Occupy brought to the forefront, most people have a clear opinion of the success or lack thereof, of the movement. The lack of vision for a solution was clearly a trigger point for many people. Failure of leadership seems to raise our hackles.
Which brings me to my point. As Donna Ladkin notes in her recent book, like most things, leadership is most notable when it fails. Perhaps this explains our obsession with leadership. As our world becomes more interconnected and more complex, the opportunities for leadership to fail increase. At the same time, these failures are far more visible to the entire world. Bombarded with examples of leadership failure, we have become obsessed with developing better leadership.
To quote a child psychologist friend of mine, the most effective way to reinforce a behaviour is to catch someone doing something good and praise them for it. My personal New Year’s resolution is to look for positive leadership behaviours and reinforce them.
Can you think of a positive leadership moment in 2011? Let’s celebrate the successes of leadership, and the successes of followers, rather than focus on failures. Please feel free to post your comments on the best leadership moments of 2011.