What do you do when your leader leaves?
I recently read a saying that great leaders don’t create followers, they create other leaders. I think this is true,
and the truth of how good a leader they were can be seen in how the“troops” carry on once they’re gone. If the strength of any organization is in the individuals, then these are the times when you see if the previous leader created wise, competent, individuals that can keep flowing with the spirit of the organization or mindless drones that have to be led by the nose everywhere. And surviving this “sink or swim” time after a leader leaves brings to light two very important facts:
1. Leaders are meant to guide us, not carry us. Internal motivation is the driving factor that should be
moving every individual everywhere, regardless of the circumstances. Did you know that you can still flourish under a lousy leader if you’re motivated enough to seek knowledge and opportunity on your own? It’s true. If a person has a mindset that they are only going to do what they’re told and will never do one thing more than they have to, even the best leader in the world can’t make them succeed. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that following is the fastest road to failure. If you don’t eventually find the strength and courage to stand on your own then you’ll never get further than you are right now. Sure, leaders set the standard and hold us accountable to it, but it’s our responsibility to rise above the minimum.
2. Our actions do affect others, and they have a right to react to that, for better or for worse. This is a sticky one. Of course, you should do your very best all the time. Giving your all will help you succeed and it will help the people around you as well. But you also have to realize that we live in a community, so if you decide to shirk
your responsibilities, do the bare minimum, or skip out, then people will react, and they have a right to. Sure, sometimes you have your reasons, and they might be very good reasons. Sometimes you need the grace and mercy of others to get through tough times. Just make sure you don’t make a habit of being a “drama queen” or somebody who’s life is fraught with problems, or you create unnecessary hardship for yourself. And while I’m on the subject, that brings up an interesting third point:
3. You never know when you might have to recross a bridge someday. When I started my career, I moved from one division of my agency to another. Three years later, they consolidated the divisions, and all of my old colleagues moved in my office. I was shocked – I never expected that to happen, but it did. I was also very glad I left with a sense of humility and gratitude to them for helping me start my career. So whether you stay, go, or leave it alone, it’s wise to remember that you reap what you sow, and not all paths are linear. You never know where you might come back around – or when someone might come back around to you!
So what does this all mean. How do you survive when your leader leaves? By relying on your own strength, and the strength of those around you. That’s why it’s important to have internal motivation – so you can keep things running even with a significant absence. That’s why it’s important to be accountable not just to your leaders, but to everybody around you – to form a stronger community that works together efficiently. That’s why you mind your manners and always give your best – to help others and shine that light of hope that even though it might be dark and confusing, there is hope and that hope will help you as you find new leaders for the next chapter.
People come and people go, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You just have to learn from the leaders you have and realize that they are helping to form you into a stronger person that’s able to stand – no matter what.
That’s all today. Take care and have a good week.