Leadership On-The-Rocks

For a couple of years I gave German classes to a gentleman in the chemical industry. When I started with him he was head of the marketing department of a multinational concern here in Mexico.

Let’s call him Fernando S.

You know those people you meet for the first time and you just feel okay? I consider it a major characteristic of effective leadership, having this special gift of making people around you  feel comfortable. It’s the emanation of an attitude that  recognizes that you can’t lead without followers and that every follower is a potential leader.

Fernando S. began to have major problems with his boss, a classic clash of personalities. I never met his boss, but by then I knew that he, Fernando S., wasn’t particularly skilled in following orders which just didn’t make sense to him.

But he lost.

For the next 6 months our meetings took place in an obscure, last century building, 10  blocks removed from the corporate offices of the company he worked for. Fernando S. was now technical consultant to a department nobody had ever heard of,  working in an office which used to be a meeting room, and had to do without a secretary.

And he still made me feel good.

To make a long story short, Fernando S. is now in charge of the most lucrative product line his company sells, working both from corporate headquarters in the U.S. and Mexico-City, supervising production, sales and marketing worldwide.

And he still makes me feel good.

It sounds like a cliché, but life is full of up’s and down’s. And we all have to deal with  mood-swings  and negative emotional states. But a leader can’t afford  to take his people with him on that roller-coaster ride. It’s relatively easy to be excited one moment because targets have been met on time and depressed the next because the world economy is going for a downturn. It takes skill to maintain (at least outwardly) a balance, where the glass  is neither half-empty nor half-full, but just is.

A leader reflects objectivity not only when dealing with production quotas, but by managing and influencing his/her own emotional states.

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