Recently, I found this picture of the “Drachenbootrennen” or “dragon boat race” that took place in Bremerhaven long time ago. I don’t remember the exact date anymore, but it was in times of my first job in Germany between 2006 and 2008. It was an extraordinary opportunity to lead.

The company enrolled a team in the race and since I like participating in group and team building activities, did not hesitate to join. I was the drummer and my job was to set the pace and motivate the team yelling: eins, zwie, drei, vier! (one, two, three, four!).

I didn’t find the video of that race in YouTube, but this one shows the atmosphere that we had. 

When I was 11 years old, I was the lead drummer of the school marching band (an extracurricular activity that you can do during primary education in Mexico). I remember how much I enjoyed hitting the drum, making sure the band keep the same pace and being in front of the gang.

Marching band at a Mexican primary school
Marching band of my primary school.

So, I thought that being the drummer in the Drachenbootrennen would be fun and easy. It was not that easy, indeed, but the point is that it was my job to lead, just as it was in the marching band of the primary school.

At first, I thought I had been chosen for the job because I was the smallest person of the crew and because I was not afraid of sitting on the small bench at the  prow of the boat. Now, I know that I really wanted it. I wanted to lead. Perhaps, I had also the skills to perform the task. However, attitude mattered a lot. The fact that I said: yes, I will do it! 

What is the attitude of a leader?

One of my university professors from Mexico used to say at class: “management is all about attitude”, I bet he still does because he still teaches. Many years later, I got what he meant because I also understood that leadership is a fundamental element of any undertaking.

You can be prepared or not and have the skills, fully or partially. You can strive for leadership or just get the chance to lead. Nevertheless, if you show no enthusiasm, no interest, no commitment or avoid taking responsibility, you will never be a leader. Your attitude is your driving force and paves the way for you to show up when it is your turn, as Seth Godin explains in his book “What to do when its your turn? (and its always your turn).

An example.

I work in a highly technical industry and since I’m not an engineer, there are many technical aspects that I don’t fully understand about solar heating technologies and systems. Humbly acknowledging this lack of knowledge, being curios and willing to understand, motivate me to reach out to experts, ask for their support and listen carefully to their explanation. Others might think: «well, I am a marketer and don’t need to understand this. That’s the job of the technicians”.   

Having this attitude has positioned me as a marketer with a high technical understanding of complicated solar matters. This, has given me the confidence to raise my hand when there is a chance to moderate a panel and lead a discussion among experts such as in this webinar about Solar Heat for Industry in Mexico.

Another example.

I know that every time I raise a question about the technology, my colleagues realise how important it is to explain the issue in a way that anyone can understand it. That’s something I have turned into a project: the Heat Changers. It is a community raises awareness about solar heating technologies by processing the technical information into messages that potential users can understand. Also, it is a forum where each Heat Changer shares his passion about solar energy and motivate others to become part of the community. Anyone who works in the solar industry or has a solar water heating system at home or at work is a Heat Changer.

What attitude do you identify? 

Three things I suggest.

  • Be curious, humble and brave to ask for advise when you don’t understand something, regardless how difficult the topic could be. 
  • Be wise to approach the experts, regardless how far you are from their level of knowledge. 
  • Most importantly, be creative and process the information that you get, in a way that you can capitalise it as part of your assets. 

Then, you will have more resources to lead when your turn comes or when you decide to lead.


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