On Thursday of this week, I joined Tracy Lyons, our director of communications and programs, and Frank Krimowski, our leadership consultant, in participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This social media phenomenon has raised more than $41.8M to date for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research and treatment. The video of us getting soaked, thanks to some of our colleagues at the national headquarters, may be found here.
My family lost a dear friend to the illness several years ago, and I participated largely in tribute to Diane. She was a person who shepherded generations of student leaders at my alma mater and was especially close to my mother. From Diane, we all learned about how to face challenges with grace and humor – good lessons for all leaders.
At the other end of the temperature spectrum, one of my former colleagues from Indiana State University attended a leadership workshop last weekend. At its conclusion, she was offered and accepted the opportunity to walk across a bed of hot coals. My friend Elaine was surprised by her own ability to summon courage to attempt this trial of confidence. Part of her training also involved a discussion about whether leaders need to be so inspiring that people will walk across hot coals to follow them.
Both experiences have led me to consider the “temperatures” that leaders exhibit in performance of their duties. Temperaments is probably the more appropriate term, but when are we required to be hot, warm or cool in leading our organizations?
In simplest terms, I think we are expected to be hot, fiery and passionate as we bring energy and vision to our work. We need to be warm as we embrace the work and contributions of our colleagues and those we serve. And, having a cool head and a calming presence is always a good thing – especially in times of significant challenge.
As the academic year begins, I hope that all of our ODK circle leaders will have the opportunity inspire those around them, embrace the challenges of serving their campus communities and remain calm when things don’t go exactly as planned.