It was move in day at a large college. A terribly hot and muggy day. A man dressed in rugged jeans and a faded t-shirt was everywhere. Unloading boxes, bringing luggage up four floors, unpacking trunks, guiding traffic, problem solving. No one knew who he was, but he was smoothing the way for the students who were both excited and nervous.
Later that evening in the Welcome Ceremony in the Great Hall, these same students were surprised to see the same man, at the podium wearing a suit and tie. He introduced himself as the College President. What? The students were taken aback.
The message? As President, this man was accessible, cares about people from top to bottom, and demonstrates an interest in removing barriers between himself and his constituents, the students. He understood moving day was stressful, and the students and their families might feel anxious and exhausted. This takes boldness of action combined with a lack of pretension, and true empathy.
What is true leadership? A leader is someone with many good qualities, but a great leader inspires others. We seldom think of humility as a leadership quality. And yet, the most inspirational leaders have a quiet strength that identifies them as a person of integrity. I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of leadership model I aspire to. One of openness. An eagerness to learn more. And gently, without fanfare, walks the talk.
Ready to make your next leadership move? What will it be?
Thank you Dr. Fair for telling this story and inspiring this article!
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