All of life is a learning experience

This is the second of Mitchell Myers leadership reflections. It was an honor to share Mitchell’s educational journey at DCTC, and thrilling to watch as he builds a successful leadership career. The following quotation from Mitchell says a great deal about his philosophy of life as well as leadership.

 “All of life is a learning experience. Our lives are full of benchmarks that allow us to rise to the occasion of allowing our peers to rise, and create experiences which allow not only ourselves to thrive, but those we inspire.” 

 

Myers

Mitchell Myers, guest author

I have emphasized the study of management versus leadership throughout my college career. Some individuals find the two terms redundant, but I find leadership to be a very important aspect of business in a new American (and World) century. During the political season, we all hear about “income inequality.” This attaches to leadership in business. It breaks my heart when I hear people complain about income inequality and see them go after people who create jobs and innovations. In the 21st century, businesses have the opportunity to come up with new technology beyond our wildest dreams. They can lead us to a lower cost of living and lower the costs of doing business. I feel that instead of, I suppose I could say, “flower children” complaining about not getting a slice of the pie, our job as leaders in business is to help make the pie bigger, and not take from those who earned it. This requires the leadership of our elected officials to apply term limits to allow for new, local faces to emerge. Once that is complete, I believe we will see a shift in policy that is more local business-centered. To make the pie bigger, businesses and organizations of all kinds must not be resistant to change.

How do we cope with change? As the business world becomes more competitive, ideas of the past do not lead to success. Change is required for survival; hence the need for leadership. There are three ways in which leadership copes with change, according to Kotter:

  • Determine what needs to be done—set direction
  • Arrange people to accomplish the plan
  • Motivate and inspire people to do their jobs

Granted, there will be some people who just won’t budge when it comes to change. They may need to be “voted off the island” for the success of the whole, but most can be convinced through steady leadership, and standing by one’s convictions. A leader must mobilize individual commitment for change. This can be done by setting a specific, realistic vision and direction, demonstrating personal character, and engendering organizational capability. Leaders must remember to be “a part,” not “apart” from the group.

Before an individual can become a good leader, they need to become a good manager. In the 21st century, the focus has shifted from management training roles to leadership training roles. This can be lost in a single generation if it is not kept in focus. Ensuring success, in an organization’s future a leader must do the following:

  • Have realistic expectations
  • View challenges with a depth of perspective
  • Manage upward, sideways and downward
  • Network outside your department/organization or business
  • Determine the kind of Leader you want to be
  • Appeal to the needs and interests of the people you manage or lead
  • Always be an effective self-manager

If one is to know others, their learning styles, their wants and needs, one must also be able to make an analysis of his or herself. Know your limitations, and use it as an opportunity for self-improvement. Leadership is more than writing or making great speeches; it is about inspiring the hearts and mind of people in your organization, or everywhere for that matter, to do their part to move us toward new technology, communication, and wealth. We have finally come to many realizations. We have determined what leadership is, and what it takes to lead us toward new 21st-century leadership. Now the time has come for us to fight the good fight, and get a sense of the future.

As William Zinsser, a writer from the American Scholar would put it, “Joyful Noise.” Robert Henri, a painter from the 19th century, said, “Paint as a man coming over the hill singing.” That is what leaders of the 21st century must do to inspire people who may not be able to go along with their ideas. So I declare:

Leaders, lead as a person ‘coming over the hill singing. Be joyful, and articulate. Share your knowledge and love of intellectual discussion with your peers and team.

If young leaders like myself lead like as a person “coming over the hill singing,” we can inspire, create a picture in the minds of our followers, and climb the mountaintop of destiny. We all are born with talents and dreams, albeit in different conditions and upbringings. It is up to people like us, to move our cause forward. We must fight the good fight, to move humanity in a better direction. As President Ronald Reagan said in his 1981 inaugural address: “We are too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams.” Also, “I will fight cheerfully, I will endure, and do my utmost as if the issue of the whole struggle, depended on me alone.” That is what I will become after my graduation: a fighter for true 21st-century leadership, “coming over the hill singing” and inspiring any team or organization I am a part of. Young leaders like myself will need to come together to resolve the problems that now confront us.

Years may pass, and days may go by, but steady leadership in times of change must be solid and have a strong resolve. The rights of humankind still ring clear. We must be led by leaders that believe in liberty and self-actualization. We have a great opportunity to move our businesses and community organizations forward to a new horizon- a horizon that brings us ethical leaders, a constant searching for knowledge, with the growth of businesses and innovation never seen before in the history of the mankind. We can do this, one leader at a time.

Managing Teams. Cambridge, MA: Center for Quality Management, 1995. Print.

“Honor President Reagan’s Legacy.” Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

Kreitner, Robert. Foundations of Management: Basics and Best Practices. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005. Print.