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  • Two Leadership Case Studies — How Do You Show Up?

    Mike Abrashoff, Two Leadership Case Studies — How Do You Show Up?

    One of the mental exercises I often put myself through is to look at current events from a leadership perspective and continue my lifelong pursuit of self-improvement. There are two cases that fascinate and stand out for me. One is the Captain of the Italian Cruise Liner, the Costa Concordia, the ship that ran aground and sank two years ago and the other fascinating case study is Pope Francis. 

    As we all know, the Captain of the cruise liner is not taking responsibility for his actions. He is blaming his crew for running aground. He was the first one off the ship when it went down. When the final account is ultimately written, I am certain the facts will show some sailor or sailors on the bridge of that ship knew the ship was approaching danger but were AFRAID to raise their hand and challenge the Captain. In the US Navy, when the helmsman receives a confusing order, or one that he or she thinks is plain wrong, they are authorized to question that order by yelling out “Orders To The Helm?” Meaning, did you really want to do what you just ordered me to do? I will bet there was fear on the bridge of that ship, preventing the crew from challenging an autocratic Captain. 

    Contrast that leadership style with the leadership style of Pope Francis. While the Pope is still very much a work in progress, and regardless of your religious affiliation, I am fascinated by him and his humble leadership style. Instead of living in the Papal apartment, he lives in a simple dorm room. Instead of eating his meals in splendor, he eats at a communal dining facility. Instead of riding in an expensive automobile, he recently arrived to a state dinner in a used Ford Fusion. He calls people directly who write letters to him. 

    Here is how Wikipedia defines humility: 

    “The term “humility” comes from the Latin word humilitas, a noun related to the adjective humilis, which may be translated as “humble”, but also as “grounded”, “from the earth”. See the English humus.[1]“ 

    Because the concept of humility addresses intrinsic self-worth, relationships and socialization as well as perspective, it is emphasized in religious practice, moral teaching and ethical study where the notion is often made more precise. 

    One of the things I am paying more attention to these days is the subject of self-awareness and how we are showing up to our people. You have to know yourself before your people can ever come to know you. How do you show up? It’s the big question every leader who aspires to drive performance, productivity and results needs to ask of themselves frequently.

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