John Maxwell said, “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” Never before have we been in a situation where we must adjust sails to ensure we protect our companies, teams and the lives of thousands who rely on astute leadership.
Incredulous as it sounds, one study suggests we make up to 35,000 decisions a day, and each choice, mundane or pivotal, has consequences we don’t often anticipate. Almost imperceptibly, our decisions are woven together over time like threads in a blanket that make up the quality of our lives and the nature of our characters.
When I was young, I lived music down to my bones, and harmonies played constantly in my head. I wanted to be a rock star more than anything else, but life took me in a different direction. I made unexpected decisions, and I learned to sustain success by creating harmony at every interaction. For the past three decades, I have been a leader at USANA Health Sciences. My life experiences have far exceeded any expectations I had in my youth. But we all have defining moments in our lives—times when our choices align with our destiny and catapult us in an unanticipated direction. These moments can paralyze or break us, leave us gasping for air or wondering what went wrong. Or they can transform us, profoundly reshaping us for the better, providing fresh insights, new goals and a strengthened resolve.
More than once, I have stood at a crossroads, sometimes understanding the far-reaching consequences of my decisions, other times oblivious that something important was about to happen. My success has come because I try to remain true to the values my parents taught me. While I have done many things right, I have also made my share of mistakes and learned some of life’s most important lessons the hard way.
The best leaders I’ve seen mentor teams with 7 overarching traits that create an environment of harmony.
- Honesty. Warren Buffet said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” Living an honest life endears teams to you because they know you have integrity—that you will do what you say you will, and they can believe you. It also takes less energy because you spend zero time covering your tracks.
- Vision. A leader with vision inspires teams and lifts companies to heights unimaginable. Such leaders are constantly exploring and absorbing ideas for solutions, knowing that such dedicated preparation will pay off at the exact time it is needed.
- Relationships. Because nothing is more important than relationships, I’ve learned that this value not only sets your day in order, it attracts team members who are ready to do the same. When we value people, that very style causes them to reciprocate with loyalty and diligence to give their best. Everybody wins.
- Communication. Today offers multiple ways to communicate with teams and customers. Still, face-to-face collaboration remains one of the most influential methods of communicating to those we work with. It shows the human side and allows passion to transcend barriers. We can also show respect and create a culture of valuing others.
- Decisiveness. Because the moment of absolute certainty never arrives, leaders must make decisions in hard times. With a pattern of analyzing issues intensely before making decisions, Bill Gates revealed his philosophy with: “It’s important to be comfortable with uncertainty.” We must carefully review issues, but to avoid the paralysis of analysis, I’ve found when you really want something, make it happen. Live and learn. Then soar higher tomorrow.
- Courage. Taking a leap of faith with every step into the unknown demonstrates the height of leadership in today’s fast-paced world. That level of courage moves companies forward and is exactly what’s needed, especially in these economic times.
- Service. Finding meaningful ways to give back and to make the world a better place is one of the most profound actions to create harmony with teams. It gets people outside of themselves and focused on others. It allows us to share the wealth of time, skills and money to those in need. It creates a heart of compassion, which washes over teams with a staying power to make each of us a little better.
When those 7 characteristics combine, harmony envelops a company. It forges teams through difficulties. It drives organizations to higher levels, and teams generate results they never dreamed achievable. Harmony binds them together for success after success.
In music, harmony happens when notes blend in ways that are pleasing to the ear. Whether someone is in a band, choir or orchestra, there is nothing quite as exhilarating as achieving perfect harmony with fellow musicians.
But musical harmony doesn’t happen without hours of practice and each individual musician’s commitment to getting the music right.
A life in harmony means operating with a consistent, honest arrangement of personal values and a solid commitment to living those values every single day. That’s what will get us through.
Essentially, this is a message of harmony, a plea for courage, and a clarion call to action.
Commentary by Kevin Guest. Here’s what you’ve missed?
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