Leadership: It is all about understanding choice

Leadership Development is what the Chick-Fil-A Leadercast is About:

Choices.  The theme of Leadercast 2012 – an especially appropriate theme, in my opinion, when attempting to understand the definition of leadership.  Leadership can be defined by the choices we make and for me, Leadercast 2012 underscored the need for us to understand choice when attempting to understand leadership.

Choices are significant in our lives from an early childhood on.  The choices we make often make us – the choices we make have a greater impact than we may be able to ever see.  This lesson, that ‘choices we make impact more than just ourselves but our families, loved ones, and the community around us’ has been ingrained in my upbringing.

I, along with my two siblings, were born to immigrant parents from the small middle eastern country of Jordan.  Arabic culture and more specifically Jordanian culture is very “collectivist” in nature (to use the description Leadercast 2012 speaker Dr. Sheena Iyengar uses in her fascinating book The Art of Choosing) – we were brought up to view the choices for the collective good.  We should choose not always in terms of what “I want” but rather “what is best for me and my family”. We were taught that what we do is reflection upon not only ourselves but our immediate family and larger extended family as well.  We were taught that our choices, and what we do as individuals, can bring honor or shame upon our family.  The consequences of your choices can be severe.  Your choices – our consequences.  Choices are a serious matter.

The following are key points from Dr. Iyengar’s discussion about choice from Leadercast 2012:

Dr. Sheena Iyengar

“Who is a leader?” “What makes a leader?”

  • Fate/chance/or choice ­– critical actions taken at critical moments.
  • Telling the stories of our lives in terms of choices gives things meaning.
  • Choice gives us control – effective leaders empower themselves with choices.
  • We don’t all see choices in the same ways (Individualist vs. Collectivist views on choices)
  • Effective leaders see choices from other’s eyes.
  • More likely to make a choice when you encounter less choice.
  • Great leaders are masters at the art of choosing.

“A leader is someone who can live with nothing but has everything “

 

For me, there was no greater message from the Leadercast than the need to understand choice. If we want to understand leadership, we need to understand choice and the impact it has on our personal leadership efforts. Understanding and appreciating choice is a life lesson – one to be studied throughout the stages of our lives and throughout the “levels” of our leadership.

 

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