The Energizer

Resilient Insights for Work & Life

Cracking the Leadership Code: The Secret to Resilient Leaders

by Eileen McDargh, Chief Energy Officer - Monday, February 24, 2020
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The old English teacher in me LOVES active verbs like “cracking”. It implies that one doesn’t suddenly “crack” the code and voila, the genie flies out of the bottle or the stone rolls away from the treasure. Rather, “cracking” demands constant work: revising, seeking, learning and practicing. And a CODE, as any mystery student knows, means looking for clues in unique places.

Move past the first dictionary definition of “leader” and you encounter deeper insights into the different roles that a leader can play. For example, the next definition is that a leader is the conductor of an orchestra. A great conductor knows the players, knows what instruments they play, and can figure out how to pull that orchestra together so the musicians have the same sheet of music and know when it is their turn to take the lead or to play harmony. How great a conductor can you be?

Another definition is that a leader is the foremost animal that is harnessed in a team. Don’t we want our leader to be harnessed with us? In the olden days of battle, the leader was the one who took the charge and headed into battle. He didn’t sit back barking orders and drinking brandy and tweeting out comments. But how often do we see people who have the title of “leader” but they let everyone else fight the battles? Can you start cracking the code by taking the lead and/or the “heat”

A leader is also defined as a duct for conveying warm air from a furnace. Don’t we want a leader who conveys the warmth of caring. Employees want to know that a leader cares for them, just like the duct that carries warmth.

A leader is also an economic indicator. A leader better be in command and know what the economic viability of the enterprise or the project is. Another definition that intrigues me (probably because my husband is a fisherman) is that a leader is a short length of gut or wire by which a hook is attached to a fishing line. And in days gone by, a leader was the blank piece of tape that wound around in an audio cassette until you got to the music!

Here’s the correlation: Take the notion of a piece of wire attached to a hook. A fishing leader strengthens the connection between the hook and the rest of the line. Aren’t there times when a leader’s presence helps solidify the relationship between the customer and the product. Certainly, you want the customer or client to be “hooked” into using the product or service. Or at other times, the leader paves the way—just like a leader on an audio cassette tape—for the full presentation to begin.

Cracking the code requires being fully present to what the team needs right now. Resilient leaders are adaptable, capable of understanding there are many ways to influence a team. Learning to use these seven different definitions can indeed release a genie of good fortune and an unmatched treasure of purpose, productivity and profit.


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Eileen McDargh Keynote Speaker Blog Author

About Eileen!

Since beginning her consulting and training practice in 1980, Eileen has become noted for her ability to speak the truth with clarity, wisdom, humor and compassion. Long-standing clients and repeat engagements attest to her commitment to make a difference in minds, hearts and spirits of organizations and individuals. She draws upon practical business know-how, life's experiences and years of consulting to major national and international organizations that have ranged from global pharmaceuticals to the US Armed Forces, from health care associations to religious institutions. Executive Excellence magazine selected her as one of the top 100 thought leaders in leadership and among the top ten consultant providers of leadership development.

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