The other day I had great phone call with an old friend who lives in Montana. We used to work together at the same company several years back.
My friend and I were reminiscing about those bygone days at the company, and the wonderful team we had been a part of.
He had recently visited with another former member of that team in Denver, and over drinks they did their own looking back, and they both came to the same realization.
In their words, “they didn’t know how good they had it, until it was gone”.
My friend told me this on our phone call with great respect, because I was the leader of that team.
I was the person who made the difference in creating a team dynamic and growth opportunity that would become a standard with which they would compare every future experience.
It was a humbling thing to hear, but it also rekindled something that had been lingering inside my head for a couple of years now.
My leadership addiction.
I’m addicted to making a difference for a team – a group of individuals rallied behind a common cause.
It’s the greatest professional thrill I know, and I admit, I need it. I want it. I gotta have it.
When someone says “you made a difference“, that’s my catnip – a personal satisfaction that brings warmth to my heart.
But it’s fleeting, since a professional life consists of many acts and many changes. Many ends, and many beginnings.
So I soon need to once again feed my addiction, and the cycle begins anew; as a leader I want to create a new way to make a difference.
It’s a cycle that, after many years, transcends even an actual position - that is, I’m not even in an “official” leadership role, and yet, I’m acting as a leader to make a difference for someone.
A case in point – my roles as an Angel investor and startup mentor here in Portland. I’m spending a lot of time with these entrepreneurs and teams, teaching and guiding.
And trying to make a difference for them. Even though, technically, I’m on the outside looking in.
Yep, I’m addicted. I hadn’t thought of it in quite that way for a couple of years, until my friend’s phone call waved that huge ball of catnip over my head.
But you know what, it’s an addiction I’ll gladly admit (and write about), because of its larger context in what it means to be a more human leader.
It’s the simple concept that says “care about them, serve them, nurture them, lead them – and you will be rewarded personally”.
It’s not the other way around, where the “I” trumps “we”. It’s not the same kind of feeling – it’s not as good of a “high”.
And, it’s an addiction you don’t have to be afraid of.
For if you really want to be a leader, I wholeheartedly encourage you to acquire it.
Think about them. Focus on making a difference for them.
And when you do, you’ll hear those words, and get that feeling. And then you’ll want to hear it again, and again.
Ah, that sweet addiciton…