Leadership from the Intern

While I will tell you that a couple of my favorite leadership movies are “We Were Soldiers” and “Remember the Titans”, I have found myself watching the movie “The Intern” here in the last six months on numerous occasions. This movie, starring Robert Di Nero, is about a 70 year old retired businessman returning to the workforce as a senior intern at an online fashion company. This guy seemingly has nothing to offer this online tech focused company, but takes his years of experience, knowledge, and pure concern for people to have a huge impact on everyone he comes in contact with. He uses every day and every opportunity to positively impact those around him. He has influence with coworkers, managers, and even the owner of the company. He has no real position with this company, but he doesn’t let that stop him from making a difference with everyone he comes in contact with.

When I watch that movie, it does help me regain perspective. Like many of you, I can get caught up in the day to day grind of the challenges of the day and trying to deliver results. Hey, those things matter and keep us employed, but there has to be more. If you are reading this note, you likely lead people in one manner or another. If we are going to be effective as a leader and have the kind of influence we want, and the followers need, we are going to have to be intentional with our leadership.

Think about what is necessary for you to be successful with your team, your followers. Are your folks better off because you lead them? Are you making a difference every day with your people/followers?

Leadership is influence. Leadership is taking followers somewhere that they could not go/achieve without you. Leadership is a great opportunity and an important responsibility.

The message from that movie has really been the backdrop for my focus this year. I am not a 70 year old intern at a new company, but I do have the opportunity to share 30+ years of life experience in business with the people I come in contact with every day. I have the opportunity to help them narrow their focus, identify key opportunities, and most of all, maintain the proper perspective through the grind. You see, it’s real easy for us to focus on counting injuries rather than caring about people. It’s real easy for us to focus on some operating metric and forget about the people driving these metrics. If the leader doesn’t have perspective, who will?

As you start a new week and really get going into a new month, take a minute and reflect on the impact you are having.

I end every safety leadership class that I teach with the same challenge: You have the opportunity today to make a difference in the life of someone else!

I will end this note with the same challenge. Will you do it?

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