The Challenge of Great Leadership (or Who I Want to Meet at a Networking Event)

Imagine you’re at a networking event and introducing yourself to someone new.  This person is an executive, C-Suite level individual.  They explain their role in the organization and you can feel their confidence that they assume their respected by their employees as a leader.

Then this person asks you what you do.  Before you answer, you have a fleeting thought, Will this person be intrigued and open to discussion, or will they suddenly get glassy-eyed and feign a friend they “see” across the room they must hurry to talk to as they skitter away?

I’m always fascinated by the people who believe the themselves to be great leaders and yet they flee from dealing with the tougher, “taboo” issues that are part of the human condition.

I believe a true leader is the man or woman who recognizes that even the uncomfortable issues have to be faced head-on – which I call Blending the Human Being with Business Practices™.

A comprehensive, end to end, domestic violence initiative doesn’t require an entire corporate overhaul.  It simply means that with assistance from a subject matter expert you can make small changes at work which result in big changes at home.   Whether you lead a handful of people at a small business or are responsible for hundreds makes no difference.  Clients report steep reductions in workplace incidents, noticeable changes in affected individuals, and clear changes in corporate culture – having a positive ripple effect to every corner of the company.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with a retired US Marine Lieutenant General who said, “Management needs to wake up and smell the coffee!  US businesses are failing because people are failing.  They’re failing because the leaders of corporate America lack the ability to recognize they need to step in and incorporate the human factor into the workplace.”

I found the following definition of leadership on Wikipedia ( to clarify it so precisely:

“Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen.”   I believe that to do that an effective leader has to get out of his or her comfort zone.  Rather than to just say they believe addressing domestic violence is an important issue they have to demonstrate that it is.  Sometimes that takes a bit of courage as risking popularity among peers.  If you don’t though, where will your organization go?  Will it really compete with organizations that have stellar reputations in the community?  It’s a challenge to accept, to be sure.  And that’s the leader I want to meet at my next networking event.