I flew to the East Coast on Tuesday. I was on a brand new aeroplane – a Dreamliner no less. I was excited until the crew told us the plane was two weeks old! And that it had only flown once before…from Europe to the UK. I somehow doubted that was true, but I took much more notice of the safety briefing than I ever do on a regular jumbo. It looked new. It smelt new. And the crew certainly didn’t know where anything was.
The biggest difference was the quietness. Actually it was eerily quiet. Most noticeably when I was trying to sleep – very smooth. And watching a film – very easy.
I am always choosy about films I watch on planes. I like escapism. I don’t want to be depressed. Or bored. I like to laugh. And I like to be excited. I chose Way Way Back. A film from last summer. I thought fun…and I certainly laughed.
My favourite moment was stolen direct from Bonnie Tyler’s famous song. Our hero, who has to rescue three boys stuck halfway down a waterslide, appeals to the waiting water park guests with the line…”I need a leader”. And then, with impeccable timing, he adds, “I’m holding out for a leader ‘till the end of the night.”
OK, I cheated here. Bonnie’s actual line is ‘I need a hero’…and in the film the appeal cam from our leader. I changed it because this line stayed with me during my week and as it stuck, hero morphed into leader. I was in the US for our annual budget presentation. This is the meeting where we propose, discuss and ultimately agree our target revenue budget (the amount of money we have to earn) for the forthcoming year.
This is a significant meeting. Our budget target for the subsequent year has influence and impact on everything we do…and on how successful we are in doing those things. Our budget targets are only ever going to be challenging…but they always have to be achievable.
And this is where we need and benefit from leaders. We all need a leader. Someone who we believe will represent us and advocate for us. Will defend us and protect our interests. Someone who will be there for us, will encourage us and will show us the way. Someone who will engage and inspire.
The good news is that we don’t all need all of these things all of the time. But there are times when we do and there are certainly times when we need a leader (and even a hero). Our budget review was just such a moment. Moreover the work we did ahead of budget review was also full of such moments. And leaders were there for me – leaders from Finance, leaders from Sales and leaders from our Company.
Significant meetings tend to have their moments of tension…and their moments of humour. They have easy decisions and difficult decisions. Everyone has their opinion and their agenda. I was pleased and relieved that there were leaders in the room who represented us and advocated for us. People who were there for us.
Fortunately (or unfortunately) our challenges don’t often involve water slides. But our challenges are many and varied; are big and small; are immediate and are long term. Our challenges become our opportunities in the presence of leaders and of heroes.
We are all leaders and we are all team members. We all have moments when we can make a difference…if we step up and step in. Moments when we have to show the way forward. Moments to engage and to inspire.