Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Bang the Drum Slowly

Unfortunate news: Maeve of Connaught is leaving.

She's going on to do that which she has done before and done well and will do well again. I cheer for her, and weep for myself.

Weep? Yes. Of all that confronts me in my business, she was the only thing or person there from which I could learned something new. My opportunities to learn and grow where I am have become vastly curtailed.

She was someone who had done this before multiple times successfully. There never was a foolish question, and she was always ready to give feedback and share her experience - and having been successful, it was experience that counted. Hers was the first attitude I have seen in a long time - maybe ever - of "What do you need, let's fix it" - and then backing it up with actually fixing it instead of delegating all the responsibility to you, the suggestor of the problem, to repair.

She was the first leader I've had in many years - and certainly the best - of being part of the individuals she was leading as well as leading. She was the one that sat with folks at lunch or laughed (loudly) at jokes or went out to discuss things after work. She was the one whose coming into your office did not immediately invoke a sense of dread or the tuning out of the higher brain functions as one prepared for lecturing or another layer of work. She led, yes - but she led beside you, not five steps in front of you.

The best analogy I can think of is trench warfare in World War I where, after the shelling, the Captain blows the whistle and shouts "Up and Over, boys." There are two thoughts at that point: the one that if The Captain says go you're sure that somehow all will work out well and you'll come back to the trench, or the one that says if The Captain says go there is little to no hope that you'll return.

Maeve is, obviously, the former.

There were other issues of course: home in one state, working in another; her beloved dogs and her horse that were "in exile" while she was among us; the care and feeding of us in a situation that was undoubtedly less than optimal. The fact that she gave so freely, for so long, continues to amaze me.

It's amazing the impact that one person, properly trained and experienced and a true leader, can have on any organization. The sense of purpose and enthusiasm while they are there present and active is only seemingly eclipsed by the emptiness and void left by their going. They are truly those who bring joy by their coming and sadness by their going.

The fact that those feelings are seldom felt is probably a reflection of the fact that there are truly few exceptional leaders that one encounters in one's life. I've had the privilege to know a handful - now, I can add one more to the ranks.

Ave atque Vale, Maeve. May you continue to do your good work - not just your job, but the process of molding and inspiring others - in a environment where it is so desperately needed.

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