Got Air?

Got Oxygen? by Dr. Robert Gerwig

Photo by Author

Air is important for life. Extreme athletes in the sport of free-diving can hold their breath for several minutes while simultaneously “diving” to dizzying depths. Unlike recreational divers using traditional scuba gear, free-divers take a deep breath and head into the deep blue. These athletes are amazing, but in the end, like all of us, they, too, need air to sustain life. There are no exceptions. All of us need air. Without it, we die. No air = death.

The Philippine Islands have some of the best diving locations in the world causing divers from all over the world to flock to here year ‘round. Living in the midst of this diving mecca has inspired me to get back in the water years after my last dive. In recent weeks, I’ve made approximately 15 dives at a handful of sites off the island of Cebu and its small neighboring island cousins.

Still a novice by any stretch of the imagination, I quickly realized the importance of AIR! I don’t want to run out of air under water. I can’t hold my breath for 4+ minutes on a single breath of air. I need air and I need it regularly. No air = death in a matter of minutes.

For this reason, much of the scuba-diver’s gear is to ensure a steady supply of air. Air gauge, dive computer, regulator, spare regulator, etc. are all tools that ensure the diver has a reliable and steady supply of air. Tanks and the air them are checked and re-checked prior to each dive. While under water, the diver continuously checks their gauges and plans to surface BEFORE running out of air. For good reason! No one wants to be 30 meters under water without air!

While looking at our air tanks on a recent dive trip, I started thinking about leadership “air.” What is absolutely necessary, core, to leadership, without which, the leader (and organization?) would die?

This is my list (I’d love to hear what you consider to be leadership “air”) of core, foundational, essential elements of great leadership.

  1. Character/Integrity (including honesty)
  2. Communication Skills (listening, written, and non-verbal communication)
  3. Vision (for himself and the organization)
  4. Ability to Generate Trust & Respect
  5. Willingness to Learn & Accept Critical Feedback (this last one is tough!)
  6. Heart (care, compassion, and concern for people; serving)
  7. Head (intellectual capacity & ability to continually learn in a dynamic world)
  8. Fortitude (ability & willingness to work hard; and not run during crises)
  9. Hands (doing, not just telling; walking the talk; leading from the front)

As I reflected on the items that comprise my leadership air, I wondered which, if any, I could live without. The answer: none. For me, all these are critically important. They are the lifeblood, the air of leadership.

What about you? Got Air? What do you believe are the core essentials of leadership?

As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.

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