|With author Lee Goldberg at book signing.|
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Leadership in the Most Unsuspected Places
Some people don’t understand the value of reading fiction. They say that we should only read non-fiction. They think that undisputed facts from history and science are the only things we should spend our leisure time absorbing. But if you adhere to that line of reasoning, you are missing out. The truth is, we all need time to get to know our creative sides, where we can just relax and allow ideas to develop.
As a long-time fan of the Monk television show and fictional series by Lee Goldberg, I just finished the thirteenth book in the series, Mr. Monk on Patrol. Don’t worry, I will not share too much of the plot and will definitely not spoil the ending. But, as a marketing and management professional, I was pleasantly surprised by the underlying leadership theme throughout the story.
Fans of the series will be thrilled to see Randy Disher, formerly an important member of the San Francisco Police Department, return as an important character in the story. But the big surprise for me was the type of leader that Disher had become. He moved from San Francisco to a small town in New Jersey and became both the new police chief and also the acting mayor. For most people (real and fictional), this quick ascension of power could be overwhelming.
But, for Randy Disher, he took the responsibilities in stride. He knew what he was capable of achieving, and he was also aware of his limitations. So, as any good leader would do – or should do – he called in reinforcements, in this case, Adrian Monk and his overly competent assistant, Natalie Teeger, and assigned them specific duties.
Consider how these actions appeared to residents of the small town, other members of the police force, and the people to whom Randy reported. But Randy was more concerned about the reasons why he needed assistance and the strengths that Monk and Natalie would be able to provide – than he was about appearances. He needed to look past appearances and focus on desired results.
In the real world of business, how often do leaders ignore their pride – even if they appear to be less than perfect – in order to solve problems, improve products or services, or just do the right thing? Maybe, we really can learn a lot by reading fiction.
Posted by Debbie Laskey, MBA