Looking for Calm

Earlier this week, I was on a call in which an organization announced a change in structure and leadership.

The person who’s stepping up to lead this evolution has been involved in the work for years but has not been a widely-recognized face or out-front leader.

Broadly speaking, there’s only one chance to make a first impression; even in a context and culture with very high trust, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one eagerly watching and listening to see how this person would step up to define and inhabit the new role.

From my perspective, he nailed it. Here’s how:

  • He was honest and humble, acknowledging right up front that he’s a little-known insider with big shoes to fill.
  • At the same time, he had his own voice — and used it. He took questions as if he were in charge (which, of course, he is).
  • Most of all, he projected calm, he talked about calm, and he shared some of his personal practices to cultivate calm. Some cultures are trained to expect rock-’em sock-’em leaders for one reason or another, and some need a sudden shot of energy — but this isn’t one of those cultures, and he isn’t one of those leaders.

Seeing how this person stepped up has already shifted my attention and changed my practice. It’s hard enough to keep oneself calm, and it takes still more work and practice to cultivate the kind of calm that can radiate throughout an organization (especially over Zoom).

Calm might not be an obvious metric for leadership or work, but it’s one we might want to look for more intentionally.

To everything there is a season, but I, for one, am not looking for more frenetic leadership right now.