For me, the best and most inspiring leadership moments happen when I see them in action during every day life. Leadership in action.
Some study leadership at school and others learn about it in leadership development courses or books.
Yet often the theories, mantras and examples don’t always make sense in the abstract.
But then comes an aha moment when a real person has a visible leadership moment. And the concepts begin to click in place.
A Stand Out Amongst Olympic Leadership Moments
So, here is someone who is a leader in all ways possible, even though she does not practice her craft in a traditional work environment.
As the “talent”, I am confident she employs a whole team of professionals who support her – to manage her schedule, brand, coach/train her, social media, etc.
But then Simone also has another team – her gymnast peers – for whom she is also a leader.
None of the gymnasts work for her or “report to her”, but as the 2020 Olympics Women’s Gymnastics Team Captain – Simone models, advises, motivates, and supports the other gymnasts.
Which is what makes Simone’s most recent decision to withdraw from the Olympic team final so significant.
You see, the decision has been met with mixed reactions from the media, her fans, fellow athletes, mental health professionals and others.
But I would not presume to add a voice to that aspect of the dialogue because I am not qualified to speak to whether it was the right or wrong decision.
(Personally, I think only Simone Bile’s opinion should matter in that regard.)
But what I do want to acknowledge is the “leadership moment”.
Yes, her decision to withdraw is undoubtedly leadership in action that reflects many of the characteristics and behaviors acknowledged previously in our Movers and Shakers Blog series.
Here are just a few:
It is imperative as a leader that you know yourself. That you actively reflect and are honest about your strengths and areas of development.
Acknowledging what you know and what you don’t know.
Because simply put, if you aren’t capable of knowing yourself in this way, your blind spots will end up being detrimental to you, the team, and your organization.
In this instance, Simone was aware and honest enough to recognize that she was not in a position to deliver a performance worthy of her personal best.
Nor strong and consistent enough to bolster the team’s overall performance.
2.Set team goals (and keep them front of mind).
As a leader, the team goals are your goals.
This means that you have to be 100% clear on what they are and what steps are needed to achieve them.
It also means that sometimes you have to do what is best for the collective in order to meet the goal, even when it may be detrimental to one or two individuals – including yourself.
In Simone’s situation, she could have barreled through and continued to compete in the team final.
But given that the end goal was for the team to win gold, and she knew her inconsistent performance was potentially jeopardizing a team victory, she withdrew.
3.Pick your battles.
Leaders need to acknowledge that every battle is not worth fighting.
Each situation must be assessed, resources counted, and then decisions to “go” or “not go” have to be made.
With limited time, energy, and financial resources available, it is impossible for you or your team members to give a hundred percent to all things.
So some things have to “give”.
And you live to fight another day.
In the 2020 Olympics, Simone opted to prioritize the team’s chances of winning and her own safety and health.
At the time of this blog post, the 2020 Olympics are still in play and the news of Simone’s decision is still very fresh.
So, more details about what went into her decision making will likely be revealed over time.
But I could not miss the opportunity to leverage this very public moment to reinforce some of the leadership practices we’ve been highlighting for the past year.
A very worthy, historic moment of leadership in action.
As you go forth and create your own leadership moments, remember to Think Broader, Do Better, and Lead Bolder.