My favourite city in the world is New York City. I’ve had an unreasonable love affair with her for as long as I can remember. I do everything I can to go there when Stateside and if you ask me, I can give you directions from memory because I’ve studied the map that much. In my multiple visits, I’ve still not scratched the surface of what’s possible to see and do. I love that place.
The seventies and eighties were a different story for the Big Apple. Crime, drugs, a city in disrepair and apparent neglect, yet paradoxically home to bohemians, actors, the Mafia, and Wall Street all made it the melting pot it is today. And then, the restorative Sun rose over the rivers that embrace the most cosmopolitan city on the planet, and she grew up, got proud, and began to value the heritage, embrace the future, and shift towards a more beautiful picture that has inspired so much change and reinvention.
One of those iconic restoration projects was Grand Central Station which was once slated for demolition and have the city turn its back on its then eighty-year history. Instead, Grand Central was saved, restored, and is home to over 750,000 people a day passing through on the way to somewhere else. Even more recently it’s become a destination with classy entertainment options just a stone’s throw from 42nd Street.
And in the midst of the picturesque renewal of the entire terminal is a small black patch in the north-west corner. A patch of dirt, grime, but mostly the stain of tobacco smoke. A small reminder of what WAS in the midst of the magnificence of what now IS. A small reminder of the cost of neglect, indifference, selfishness and an unwillingness to pay the price for change and restoration. And an equally beautiful reminder of the beauty of restoration, change, renewal and grace.
Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus in their classic book “Leaders, strategies for taking charge” say the thing that differentiates good leaders from great leaders is the ability to acquire new skills. One of the best gifts we can give ourselves and the each other is the gift of change and transformation. To become what you weren’t or aren’t yet is a true privilege of leadership. To create an environment that has the right amount of motivation and expectation is sublime.
The two levers of leadership growth are motivation (I want to) and situation (I have to) and they serve to locate and shift us on the following ways.
How Leaders Grow
Leadership Growth – In summary:
- Low Motivation and No Situation – You’re stagnant and you need to find your big why.
- Low Motivation and Go Situation – You’re resistant and you need to take responsibility.
- No Situation and Go Motivation – You’re excited and need to take action.
- Go Motivation and Go Situation – You’re engaged and you need to include others.
The true wisdom here is employing the right leadership style to see genuine shifts take place.
This looks like:
- Choose a directive leadership style in a stagnant environment. Change things up.
- Choose a guiding leadership style in an excited environment. Give guidance.
- Choose a challenging leadership style in a resistant environment. Draw the line.
- Chose a motivational leadership style in an engaged environment. Serve momentum.
When I look up to my northwest corner I’m reminded of how far I’ve come and what I could return to if I permitted neglect and what is possible with the right growth choices. The beauty is worth the work.
This is for leaders. I am for leaders.