Leaders by Default

June 10, 2014

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I'm Deb- CEO, worldwide executive coach, mentor, consultant and speaker. I'm here to help you take your leadership and impact to the next level!

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Bernard Jordan1

This past weekend, for the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the History channel showed a very impactful documentary that dramatically showed the sacrifice our military made on the beaches of Normandy. As they came off those boats, there were faced with full frontal fire and no place to take cover. The ensuing carnage is unimaginable.


As leaders fell one after another, the chain of command broke again and again to a point where those in the lower ranks suddenly found themselves leaders by default. Now the amazing thing is that they were ready. They very quickly took charge and did what needed to be done. When faced with a jungle-like obstacle, for instance, they welded steel debris onto the front of a tank, creating a fork to push through the blockades. It’s the kind of dedication, determination, and ingenuity that is, indeed, rare.


Fast forward 70 years…I was delighted to read the story of Bernard Jordan , an 89-year-old nursing home resident and World War II veteran, who decided that nothing was going to stop him from attending the D-Day ceremony. By the time they realized he was gone, he was well on his way to Normandy.


That determination to overcome the obstacles was the hallmark of our greatest generation. It is what made them win against all odds.


So here’s the question. If you’re faced with a seemingly impossible situation, what do YOU do? What happens when you look around and realize you are a leader by default – that people are looking to you to guide them? Take a lesson from our predecessors and accept the challenge to do what it takes to win.


I, for one, do not like taking “no” for an answer. I believe that with enough time, money, and resources, you can find a way to get things done. And where one area is lacking, you need more of the others. In the case of these veterans, they became extremely resourceful.


As you’re faced with obstacles, ask yourself what it will take to overcome them.


Do you need more time? 
You have 24 hours a day. That is all. You can maximize those hours immensely, but you still have just 24 hours a day. If you know that something is going to take 72 hours, don’t fool yourself into thinking you can do it within your 24 hours. Get help. Allow others to bring their hours and strengths to the table and share in the victory of accomplishment.


Do you need more money?
This can definitely be a challenge. There are only two things you can do: cut expenses or increase income. Ideally, you would address both. This is where creativity comes into play and why I love the model my mentor, Dan Miller, advocates – multiple streams of income. This requires thinking outside the box. If it doesn’t come naturally for you, surround yourself with those for whom it does and learn from them.


Do you need more resources?
If you’ve ever been to Biltmore Estates, you have no doubt been amazed at how they managed to build such a magnificent structure back in the late 1800’s. The sheer enormity of the project is staggering. You may wonder how they managed to assemble all the materials, the manpower, and the means to build a 250-room mansion in what was, at the time, a very remote area. I can tell you that, more than anything, it was a matter of identifying and assembling the proper resources. George Vanderbilt had a rail line built that brought supplies right to the front door. He hired some of the finest craftsmen in the world to live on site and apply their trades. The fact is, George Vanderbilt alone could not have built the estate any more than you or I could. But he was enormously resourceful in pulling together the team that could pull off the impossible.


If you find yourself a leader – by default or appointment – facing obstacles, simply ask yourself these three questions and take action accordingly. We’d all be a lot better off if we just thought more like Mr. Jordan and didn’t let anything stop us from accomplishing our goals.