Published May 3, 2014

Long Run Leadership

Being a runner from Boston, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I’d have done if I’d been crossing the finish line at 2:50 p.m. on 4/15.

I know what it’s like to cross that line. I’d like to say it’s always exciting and tear-filled, but it hasn’t been for me. My experience has been much more painful—a stiff-legged hobble down Bolyston Street much later in the afternoon than I would have preferred—cold, confused, and mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. I’ve been thinking about that shell of a person and wondering whether she would have been able to muster the adrenaline to continue running to a hospital to donate blood or to whip off my shirt and use it as a tourniquet as some runners did. I like to think I would, but who really knows until you’re actually there in that moment?

What is that these people have? Is it bravery? Endurance (even more than it takes to run 26.2 miles)? Incredible instincts? What makes a person run INTO a horrific scene rather than away from it?

Today I read an interesting blog saying this is true leadership—the ability to take action when others won’t, to make changes that otherwise wouldn’t have happened. I’d take it a step further to say true leadership is the ability to take yourself (your physical woes, exhaustion, fears, ego, personal troubles and concerns) out of a situation in order to clearly see the action that needs to be taken. And good leadership is being able to do this at times when this is most difficult.

Obviously (and thankfully) we’re not all going to face leadership moments like those of Marathon Monday, but on a more day-to-day level, we’re all faced with decisions and challenges that require a clear head, the ability to see the full picture, the willingness to ask the right questions (even when the answers are disappointing), and the confidence to move ahead—ACT—when others won’t.

In franchising, I’ve met some great true leaders—people who’ve walked into decades-old brands and dared try something new, folks who’ve asked their franchisees for feedback even when they knew the answers would be tough to hear, CEOs who’ve admitted wrong-doings to their customers and set out to fix them. These are the people who’ve made tough decisions and dared to act when others haven’t. These are the people I’d want on my team—in the boardroom and in life. Do you have people like this on your team?

About the Author: Molly Rowe

Molly Rowe is the former Editorial Director at Franchise Business Review and reported regularly on top franchise opportunities and the latest trends in franchising. Molly oversaw Franchise Business Review's research and the publishing of FBR's annual Top Franchises Guide, Top Low Cost Franchises Guide, and many other specialty franchise reports.
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