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Leadership Moments: Smaller than you think

Leadership ... some people tend to think that leadership moments are big, heroic acts. Big speeches, big decisions, big impacts - and yes, sometimes, that can be true. Books are written about those moments; business school case studies ask future leaders to learn from them. I was struck when I read David Epstein's Range Widely Newsletter with Daniel Coyle A Practical Guide To Building Team Culture (Including Remote-Team Culture). The statement "The heroic-genius model of leadership is outdated" continues to make me pause and think.

I want to build off this statement and want to counter the idea that leadership moments are only big ... I spent time last week with a team, talking through and discussing leaders who had impacted their lives. I asked them to consider someone they knew personally who had demonstrated leadership.

What came out were people who ....

  • Actively listened; asked questions

  • Saw and valued each person

  • Demonstrated vulnerability (I love what Dr. Brené Brown has done for vulnerability in the leadership world)

  • Created psychological safety (Thank you to Dr. Amy Edmondson for her research and continued work)

  • Cared about the person they were with (Thank you Heather Younger for your work on Caring Leadership)

As I was listening to examples and what people where sharing, I was reminded how important our small or micro-moments you have as a leader to create connection, to build trust, and to potentially change not only someone's day but maybe someone's trajectory.

Whether you are someone just starting on your leadership journey or someone who is experienced in leadership, the leadership practice or leadership habit of pausing to create and to engage in leadership micro-moments is essential. These moments are the building blocks of current future and trust. These moments are the ones that someone will remember - maybe long after you have interacted with them. These moments set examples for those around you - and the lack of this leadership practice is also seen.

I remember one of those leadership practices that I observed. I was a military officer, providing support to a high-level officer. Before there was near the research there is now in focusing on people, when I would come in to his office, he would turn away from his computer, face me and fully engage in whatever question, concern, or topic I brought to him that day. Whether the topic was big or small, that was what he did. At the time, I did not realize what a powerful example he was setting - be present, ask questions, and listen between the lines (great advice from Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky that I had yet to receive). When I reflect back on the leaders who have deeply impacted my life and my leadership practice, it was more in the small habits and practices than in the big speeches or large decisions - and yet, they profoundly shifted me when I didn't even know it.

Let's Get Practical

  • Send a quick "check in" note to someone you know has something going in (text, email, Teams, Slack ... you pick the method)

  • Practice being fully present in your conversations

  • Send an appreciation note to someone this week

  • Put your phone away in your next conversation

Truth is - leadership moments are often much smaller than the books and case studies tell us. Instead, they are leadership micro-habits and practices that create these moments that impact others. You can start today, right now.

Food for Thought

* Who as influenced my leadership practice and how?

* What was my best leadership micro-moment this week?

* What opportunity did I miss this week to create a micro-moment?


  • Brown, B. Dare to Lead.

  • Edmondson, A. Fearless Organizations.

  • Heifetz, R. & Linsky, M. Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading

  • Younger, H. The Art of Caring Leadership.

Share your ideas on your leadership micro-moments below or send them to me at Let's create more leaders together - one moment, one question, and one person at a time.

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