I was in the process of setting up Dora the Explorer for my four-year-old so that I could make breakfast. But when Yahoo popped up on the screen, I paused. Then I said, “Look. There’s President Obama. He won a big award.”
My son said, “For what?” Then he pointed to an advertisement for Target — a boxing glove that punches images of the flu. He said, “Did Obama win for killing that stuff?”
I saw a teaching moment. I tried to think of something good. I said, “He won for being nice to people and reminding us all to be nice every day.”
The Nobel Prize Committee said something interesting about Obama’s award: “Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future.”
And this, I think, is what good leaders do. They help us a see a future that we like, that we’re a part of, and that we can help create. In the case of Obama, his combination of strong values and intellect and charisma are mesmorizing to watch. And to me, his lack of BS in politics is almost as revolutionary as his skin color in politics. I love the whole package, and he makes me proud to be a US citizen.
I feel a similar way, on a smaller scale, with the new CEO of Brazen Careerist, Ed Barrientos. I spent almost a year convincing him to love the company and then to be CEO of the company. There were other people who had offered to take the job. But I wanted this guy because he inspires each of us at the company to be our best selves. That’s what leaders should do.
Sure, it’s early for Obama to win the prize, but it’s an acknowledgement that people are already stepping up and acting differently because Obama has set the stage for people to be their best selves.
Very few of us feel that we can pick our country, but we can each pick our company. Companies with leaders who put people, the planet and profits on equal footing are companies that are most likely to give you that same feeling of pride that we feel today. When you choose your job, you choose your leaders. Today’s Nobel Peace Prize award is a reminder to us that good leadership inspires everyone to be good. Find that in your career.
Hat tip: Melissa Mansfield