It is amazing to me what is happening to our culture. We all know the millennial stereotype and what comes with that. As a millennial myself (although I don’t feel like it) I can’t believe it. This is becoming such a culture of followers. So I have to ask in this generation, where are all the leaders? Old school thought of beating them into submission is not going to work anymore.
This brings me to the lighthouse illustration. The lighthouse is such a powerful image. One I believe beautifully represents an opportunity to lead others. Lighthouses were built on shores to alert ships, when they can’t see danger coming towards them. To guide them if you will. People are the same. Some people can’t see what danger they are running towards. In this context we will keep it to work life.
So you have employees not respecting where they are or who they are working for. They may be working at a sub par level and not even know it. Someone needs to lead them to safety. Show them what they are doing wrong and correct them in a safe and supportive way. Our culture now is so afraid of rejection and failure, if we try to correct in a negative way it is damaging to both management and the employee.
Unfortunately the ratio of people that need these safe places and people that supply the support, or light, is weighing heavily the wrong way. We can change that however. We just need to have the courage to speak up and lead. There are two reasons I really like to use the lighthouse as imagery for this concept.
One: You don’t have to be a bold, trailblazing leader to inspire others for success. You don’t even have to be management in a workplace to be the resident leader. I know from my experience in the automotive field that just because you are a great salesman, technician or service advisor; doesn’t mean you will be a great sales manager, shop foreman, and service manager respectively. Leadership is about attitude and culture, doing the right thing for the right reasons. Management is about managing numbers, processes, and situations. The lighthouse simply does it’s job and shows the way.
Two: Even the dimmest lighthouse shines in the darkest night. Recently I was working in a very broken place. It didn’t take long to have an impact on the culture there and inspire others to do their best. I was leading by example, and I was not the boss. When I left this work place to move on to my current position, an employee from there reached out. He told me it was clear I had left and there is now a void. This employee was the bottom of the totem poll. My response to him was that was great news! What an opportunity he has to fill that void and lead others. Do the right thing for the right reason and people will take notice. It is a dark place, a little light will shine brightly. I hope he took my response to heart and ran with it.
You just have to be brave enough to let the light shine just a little. When you do, people will respond, and people will follow. How do you know if you’re a leader? Just look behind you and see who is following.