When I turned 40 my metabolism decided to take a break. “Hey, I’ve been working my tail off to keep you from developing a muffin top and I’m tired. So, from now on I’m taking it easy!” Boy … he wasn’t kidding.
The days of late night ice cream not having any affect on my waistline were over. For a while I tried to beat Mr. Metabolism. My weapon of choice? The diet! It actually worked for short period of time. I’d drop a few pounds and feel a lot better. But lo and behold my appetite would get the best of me and soon the weight would find its way back home … to my stomach.
It wasn’t until I decided to make a lifestyle change that I was able to permanently settle in on a consistent weight that I was happy with. That lifestyle change involved scrapping my diet for sensible eating and consistent exercise, selling my car and commuting the six miles to work by bicycle. Once I changed my lifestyle it became just that, a lifestyle. No longer could I yo-yo back and forth between dieting and non-dieting. No longer could I pretend to be fit when my behavior showed otherwise.
Leadership is very similar. You can’t be a situational leader and be effective. Leadership is not a task but rather a lifestyle that needs to be lived 24 hours a day. Whether it’s communication, transparency, or taking a stand, it must be part of who you are.
Mr. Metabolism knows when you cheat. And he sticks it to you when you do. He knows when you’re not living a fit lifestyle and it’s impossible to fool him.
Your people have the same instincts as Mr. Metabolism. They’re smart. If you think you’re fooling them you’re dead wrong. They know when you’re treating leadership like a task for personal gain. “Come on in, sit down, let me demonstrate my leadership on you!” And like Mr. Metabolism, your people will stick it to you. Only instead of excess weight you’ll be saddled with a low-morale team that wishes you’d change your lifestyle.