Leadership -- the act of moving a group of people to work toward a vision that resonates with deep motivations.
Leadership in crisis -- conveying a sense of not only that vision and the first credible steps toward it in the larger context of a clear approach or plan, but also a sense of character, authenticity, quiet confidence, staying power, fairness, commitment, inclusiveness, thoughtfulness. Demanding and earning the extra measure of support and sacrifice from everyone.
We have elected a leader. Will he be sorely tested? Will he stumble? Will he misstep? Very likely. It comes with the job. But he has displayed the traits that I have observed in the best of the more than fifty CEOs who I have interviewed and had the privilege of knowing.
Now there will be a focus on the speed with which he assembles the right team, organizes for action, absorbs facts not revealed until the transition teams dig in, engages and inspires those "across the aisle" as well as those within his own party who would feast at the expense of the common good. Each of these will have inherent "messages" to all of us. The subtext will be as important as the action.
Which brings me to my unsolicited counsel: pay careful attention to "Signal Acts," deeds which speak louder than millions of words. Deeds which establish and reinforce the new beliefs that were ignited by his campaign. Obama's own deeds, those of his team members and those he can encourage from Congressional leadership. And avoid negative Signal Acts which give oxygen to the embers of doubt, fear and cynicism.
One of these Signal Acts will be to keep his promise to make his thinking visible, transparent, notwithstanding the need to keep some things confidential. It is crucial to bringing us all along and keeping the trust he has built. Stephen M.R. Covey has it right: The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything.
That's my view. What's yours?