There's not much about leadership I learned in a book or in a class. Most of what I know about leadership I learned after a wedding.
Take, for instance, my first marriage. I was a teenage bride who married because the baby was due in a month. Of course, I didn't see it that way at the time. Back then, I was in love! Yet when I finished high school and was ready to move on to college, my husband didn't want me to. We had an understanding, but he reneged, so I had to let him go. I left the title of wife behind for "single parent" and led my two kids off to college. That was the beginning of what I would come to understand as my learning to lead years. Those were tough years ahead for the three of us, but I knew I was modeling my first lesson to my "underlings"--the importance of education.
Then, there was my second husband. We dated in college and married a year after graduation. When he died not two months after the "I dos," I played follow the leader this time, as my new in-laws led me and my two kids directly to their house one state away to begin rebuilding a life that never even had to chance to be. Six months later, I took over from there, as it was time to move on and really start over. I led my kids back home to Phoenix and taught them this: hard times do not keep you down. Only you can do that.
This time, I had a degree and a little financial security to take with us. We were fine till I met "third guy's the charm." He happened to be everything but, and I married him anyway. We stayed together for about 13 years, till I found out he lived secret lives with other women. Instead of falling apart, I had to take the lead in this game as well, leading our butts into divorce court where everything--for the most part--was split 50-50. The betrayal left me with one of the hardest lessons of all: man does not always play fair--so you have to try your best to stay ahead of the game.
It's been five years since then, and I've since gone on to avoid those partnerships with might include me at the alter. Still, through all of my trials and errors, otherwise known as marriage, I've learned this about leadership:
_Leaders make mistakes, but more importantly, they overcome them.
_Leaders are kind to their underlings, but also firm, so the job gets done.
_Leaders can be late. They can procrastinate. They can even miss a deadline. But they cannot make excuses.
_Leaders know communication is a two-way street, but that it just takes one of you to open the dialogue. Leaders go first.
_Leaders understand boundaries: which ones to cross and which ones to avoid.
_Leaders are naturally drawn to people who will help them succeed.
_The best leaders care enough to listen, and they don't get involved in projects or people they're not passionate about.
_And leaders know when it's best to step aside.
Having learned from your own partnerships, do you have anything to add?