Who Will You Stand For


 “Criticism is something you can easily avoid by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” Aristotle

Leaders are easy targets.  They are overworked, held accountable, and often have unfulfilled personal and emotional needs which are put on hold for work-related priorities.  They are easily influenced in particular by those whose style and mannerism is closer to their own.  She may self-select, listen to, and be influenced by those who make her feel all powerful, warm, and supported.  Great leaders pursue and make time for those who don’t agree with them, those whose style is different than theirs but their thinking maybe less unbiased, or those who have wisdom and have experienced the ups and downs of life.  It was easy for Mandela to take revenge on the Afrikaans who prisoned and took his life away, but he recognized their importance in rebuilding South Africa and invited them into his coalition.  It would have been convenient for Walter Wriston, the ex-chairman of Citicorp, to fire John Reed his successor at a time when Reed was an early advocate of electronic banking and his colleagues, including some of Wriston’s advisors, had started a movement to have him disenfranchised.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, initiates personal attacks and law suits against those who disagree with him. His attack on John McCain calling him a dummy, then claiming he was no war hero because he had been captured by the enemy, was caused by McCain’s disagreement of his positions.

The one that turns heads is the one that can see her thoughts, emotions, and actions from an outer body perspective.  She can separate the currents of energies in her body from her consciousness or her true self.  He says “I will stand above the currents, above the fray, above my insecurities, outside my day to day emotional needs.  I look at each event on its own merits and endeavor to keep in check the meanings and assumptions that naturally attach themselves to events because of my background and history”.. The great ones say “Look at me, I am just like you and I carry with me the same human frailties and insecurities.  With one exception—-for this cause, at this time in my life, in the service of these people and because of my values and beliefs, something bigger passes through me.  The message is passing through me vicariously and it dwarfs any select group of people who I naturally connect with and like.  I carry all of my followers with me and they have entrusted me with their journey.  On my own time, I will take care of my friends.  But my friends and close companions know better than to expect me to make exceptions, look the other way or treat others unfairly when I lead this organization.  I am not sure if I will ever be able to disenfranchise a wife that stood by me through thick and thin as Nelson Mandela did  when he found out that Winnie was abusing her power, but those are the types of examples that I will aspire to “

It is easy to spot the followers of leaders like these.  They are the ones that will push through amazing hurdles and challenges.  They do so willingly and with little fanfare.  They believe in their leader.  She has infused them with a sense of purpose that supersedes their own needs and wants.  Like their leader, they carry the message in their blood and new team members immediately notice it.  They know that there is only one choice.  Join this team and I serve something bigger than me and my friends. Join this team and if I let the ball drop, I have to answer to the whole team, not just the boss.  Join this team and as the saying goes in family farms, “no one goes for dinner until all the chores are done…”   


Questions for Online Conversation

  1. Which type of leaders have you been associated with?
  2. Do you know any that took you and your team to amazing places?
  3. What was special about them?

About Kaveh Naficy
Kaveh is the leader of Heidrick and Struggles executive coaching practice in North America. Kaveh focuses on working with leaders placed to make transformational and creative changes in their organizations. Kaveh has a proven record of success in harnessing the strengths of these leaders to achieve accelerated business solutions. He is able to create significant insights through reflective thinking, presence, and disciplined follow-through. Executives who have worked with Kaveh say that his strengths are his deep insights into the realities of the current and future business world, accelerated scanning of the environment and competition; creative out of the box thinking, and leveraging the collective intelligence of their teams and creating the organizational culture to support and foster the appropriate organizational design and strategies. They also point their deep trust and personal connectivity with Kaveh, his coaching approach, and style.

One Response to Who Will You Stand For

  1. Kristina DiPalo says:

    Kaveh – Great commentary on the hidden strengths a leader must foster to make tough choices in service of others. It is easy to “spout off” one’s opinion but another to realize your words and actions influence others, and to use them wisely.

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