Author Archives: Mary Luttrell

Guest Columnist on “The Everyday Leader”

Karen, my 19 year old niece and one of my loyal readers, is visiting me this week. She is a junior at the University of Florida, majoring in geology, with a minor in English. I was delighted when she accepted my invitation to contribute to today’s Minute! I gave her carte blanche to write on anything having to do with leadership, and here is her essay, unedited.

Food for Thought ~

The Everyday Leader by Karen Vyverberg

In my – admittedly brief – 19 plus years I have come to decide that there are two main types of leader: the Official Leader and the Everyday Leader. I like to believe I can speak personally on both.

An Official Leader is just that – a person whose job it is to lead, like a foreman or a shift supervisor. The job of an Official Leader is not easy. The group has certain goals to meet, and the Official Leader is saddled with the responsibility of meeting them.

An Everyday Leader is a more subtle position; that person in a group of friends or peers that the others instinctively look to for communal decisions. He or she might be the person who drives the most often, or even just the person who starts the brainstorming of dinner ideas. Perhaps “the party doesn’t start” until he or she arrives.

I believe it is often more difficult to be an Everyday Leader. We are faced with countless responsibilities everyday, and it is nice when some simple choices – like where to eat out – are made for us. The tricky role of the Everyday Leader is to make these extra choices without enforcing them like an Official Leader. An Everyday Leader must first be a group member, but perhaps with just enough foresight to take the responsibilities no one else wants.

Question of the day ~

Where do you fit in this description? Do you inhabit both Official and Everyday Leader roles? Where are you most effective or comfortable?

I hope you enjoyed this special edition with a different, yet related, perspective. Thanks, Karen!

In Memorium: Leadership & Depression

The scope of a leader’s role can be daunting, from inspirational visionary to task master, and everything in between. (This is just one reason why I say leadership is not for the faint of heart.) Most leaders at some point in their careers find themselves at the helm when a tragedy takes place. A particularly difficult situation to navigate is the loss of a team member/employee to suicide. A basic understanding of mental health issues and depression is fundamental, as is thought and preparation for the leadership that will be needed to help people through the emotional aftershocks of a tragedy within the work community.

Food for Thought ~

If you yourself are experiencing symptoms of depression, please reach out. There is help available. If someone in your organization is at risk, do what you can that’s appropriate to the situation to offer support and assistance. You never know when it might make all the difference. Here’s a website that’s a good starting point for information.

Question of the day ~

As a leader, have you educated yourself about mental health issues and how to recognize potentially serious situations? Do you have a “preparedness plan” for how to handle a mental health crisis situation?

In Memorium
Peter J. Kingston
6/22/1954 ~ 1/18/2011

“Opportunity Recognition” Capabilities

Last week the subject was gratitude ~ taking time to reflect on our lives and our work and feeling grateful. There’s a significant secondary gain from practicing gratitude; it improves our ability to see opportunities. By focusing on what’s good and valuable in our lives and at work, we strengthen our “opportunity recognition” capabilities. Pessimists and cynics often miss opportunities because their focus is elsewhere.

Food for Thought ~

Most good leaders are optimistic and consciously grateful. Recently, I was with a client who had just successfully moved her large organization into beautiful new offices. As she took a rare quiet moment to gaze at the vista from her window, she expressed gratitude for all the factors that had come together to make the move possible. This is a person who is an expert at opportunity recognition. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

Question of the day ~

How optimistic are you? Do you easily see opportunities? Do you need to strengthen your gratitude habit?