Living Leadership

Living Leadership

Make the leadership moments mean something

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Julie Thorson
Julie Thorson

During the course of a day, each of us have the opportunity to let leadership moments slip by. Good news: We also have the opportunity to take advantage of leadership moments.

The last time out, I wrote about setting leadership goals for “dummies” ("How to set leadership goals for dummies"). I thought today I'd spend a little more time explaining point No. 3, “Make the moments mean something.”

We all have those moments when something spills out of our mouths that we wish we could take back right away — a snarky comment, a personal opinion that might not need to be shared, or even a joke that obviously lands flat. Those are the moments we wish we could rewind.

If someone claims this has never happened to them, they are obviously not very self-aware. Worse yet, they are very aware and feel in that moment the person listening deserves to hear what you have to say.

These are leadership moments that absolutely matter. I am in no way trying to profess I don't do this. In fact, I know without a doubt I do.

What I am reminding us all to do is to be aware of these moments and either acknowledge them right away or reflect on them later. Reflecting and realizing why you did what you did can be very powerful.

If being emotionally charged was what fueled your comments, try to take the time to understand what your trigger was. Journal, journal, journal. This will help you to understand the why and try and grow from it.

One of my goals is to improve my listening skills. Those moments where I find myself daydreaming in a conversation or better yet interrupting need to stop. Taking the time to think about what is motivating me to do so and considering how I can improve is important if I want to continue to grow and learn as a leader.

Reflections at the end of the day, combined with writing down my mistakes is helpful. Recognizing the behavior and then practicing consciously on not doing it is significant.

The moments when you are listening can make all the difference in the world. When you give the gift of truly listening, there may be leadership opportunities for you to give real time feedback to the person speaking.

Let me explain. If you hear something you know is untrue, rather than walking away and telling someone else about the untruth … challenge the speaker. Ask them to clarify.

Don't just let them off the hook and then go talk to someone else about it. What good does that do? Of course, this real time feedback is much easier to give if you trust the speaker. Those moments, however, are crucial and if you choose to say nothing, you may have missed a great opportunity for both you and the speaker.

Regardless of position or title, leadership moments happen every day, several times a day.

It's your choice whether you let them slip by or whether you take advantage of them. Good luck! 

Julie Thorson's “Living Leadership” blog was named the 2016 “Best New Department” Bronze Award winner by the American Society of Health Publication Editors. The president and CEO of Friendship Haven, a continuing care retirement community in Fort Dodge, IA, that earned the Governor's Award for Quality under her, Thorson is a coach's daughter at heart. She is a former part-time nursing home social worker who quickly ascended the leadership ranks. Now a licensed nursing home administrator, she has been a participant in LeadingAge's Leadership Academy and LeadingAge Iowa's Mentor of the Year.