What Mike Taught Me About Deciding To Be A Leader

March 20, 2014 Vince Molinaro

Ren Guest Blog - blog pic

Ren Wiebe, Guest Blogger

One of the great things about my job is the fact that I work with some of the best leadership experts in the industry. I’m also thrilled to be able to share their wisdom and insights with leaders around the world. This blog is written by Ren Wiebe based on a lesson he learned in delivering our Accountable Leader Program.

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Sometimes we are lucky enough to witness a real and profound decision to lead. I was lucky enough to see and experience one leader’s decision in a recent training program. What I saw rocked and inspired me and the other participants. Let me paint the picture.

Mike was the quiet young guy in a 3 Day program called the Accountable Leader. During Day 1 introductions he was clearly uncomfortable – he had the look of a deer caught in the headlights. He mumbled his way through his introduction, and let everyone know that he had become a Team Leader just 3 months back and that everyone on his team was at least 10 years older. I’m pretty sure most in the room felt his discomfort and perhaps even wondered about his potential as a leader. In every exercise and discussion during the first day he reinforced this feeling of discomfort. He was last to speak, shared little, and appeared the child among adults.

The first glimmer of “Leader Mike” appeared after an exercise where participants look at the people who most impacted them over their careers. Mike spoke with his first animation about Paul. Paul was a supervisor who not only supported his people but was willing to have the difficult conversations when things weren’t working. It was a glimpse of what was to come.

Day 2 started much as Day 1 for Mike. His morning check-in was short and nervous, and he said little throughout the morning. After the lunch break, discussion became raucous, with several of the more vocal members challenging the notion of “coaching” in a unionized environment. They held court and made it clear that they weren’t having any of this. I asked for other perspectives and then saw something quite remarkable. Mike, the quiet young guy took the floor. He told his story about the coaching he had experienced in a unionized environment. He spoke with true passion about the impact he had seen on team performance.

He invited his older, more experienced, colleagues to entertain the possibility that true coaching could and did occur in a unionized environment. The surprise at Mike’s confidence and impact could be seen throughout the room. It appeared that Mike had said what others had been unwilling to say. The conversation became energized and rich. Mike had turned the tide in the discussion.

Over the course of the next two days, we all saw Mike increasingly step up and display leadership. He shared openly of his leadership challenges and made commitments on how he would tackle them. He gave useful and meaningful feedback to people in the room. He added valuable comments that evolved conversations. His credibility in the room continued to grow and so did his apparent confidence.

In the final check-out on Day 3, Mike paused when his turn came to speak. He hesitated, and then said, “I’m not sure why it happened, but at one point on Day 2 I saw a mental picture of Paul, my first supervisor. I made a decision in that moment to step up and be a leader! …And you know what? Now I’m not afraid – I know I’m a leader!”

Thanks Mike. Your decision rocked us all!

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About the Author

Vince Molinaro

Vince Molinaro is the Global Managing Director of Strategic Solutions at Lee Hecht Harrison. He is also the author of The Leadership Contract – a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. Vince has spent more than 20 years as an adviser to boards and senior executives looking to improve leadership in their organizations.

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Comment on What Mike Taught Me About Deciding To Be A Leader by Brian Wellman

Another great blog Ren, thank you. These are exactly the turning points...

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