LEADER’S FIELD GUIDE
The Arctic winter is cold and dark. Temperatures at the North Pole hover around -30ºF, but can get as low as -90ºF! During the winter solstice, the sun won’t even rise above the horizon. Are you responding to harsh elements in your work environment? Creatures inhabiting the Arctic must routinely respond to challenging conditions and use various tactics to survive. Consider the situations forcing you or your team members into survival mode, like the difficult components of planning, development, and implementation. Or in other words– the hard work!
When the going gets tough, do you respond like the Arctic squirrel, fox, frog, or bird? Notice each reaction taps into both the positive and negative characteristics of your leadership. With which of the following behaviors do you most identify?
- Hibernating: The Arctic Ground Squirrel hibernates for up to eight months at “the lowest body temperature ever measured in a mammal.” Every few weeks, and while still sleeping, the squirrel will shiver until its body temperature returns to 98ºF. They demonstrate intense preparation by building up fat stores and digging out burrows. This behavior equates to months of hard work followed by a season of lazy, low energy participation. What gets you focused? Or draws out a lethargic contribution? Why?
- Acclimating: The Arctic Fox sheds a short earth-tone coat and grows a new thick white coat each winter. The arctic fox “is an opportunistic predator and scavenger” and relies on its camouflage to hunt rodents, primary lemmings. This behavior equates to adapting to the needs of the moment or hiding your authentic self. Where are you adjusting to new challenges? Where are you in camouflage?
- Glaciating: The Wood Frog freezes solid in the winter and defrosts every spring! “Ice crystallizing in the frog’s body […] further concentrates glucose inside the cells, turning it into an antifreeze.” This behavior equates to taking time to respond thoughtfully or totally ignoring a co-worker. During which, like the Wood Frog, you offer no detectible life signs (including heartbeat and brain activity) until things get a bit more hospitable. How is thoughtfulness serving you? What’s behind a delayed or lack of response?
- Evacuating: The Arctic Tern would rather fly 50,000 miles a year, pole to pole, than withstand even a moment of winter weather! Over the course of its 30-year lifespan, this bird could fly up to 1,500,000 miles– the equivalate of more than three roundtrips to the moon. This behavior equates to purposefully managing your surrounding or intentionally sidestepping responsibility. What are you trying to manage or avoid?
Spend time understanding what is behind your actions. Then, decide how you can be more prepared, accommodating, contemplative, and intentional. Identify the areas where you may be perceived as lazy, inauthentic, stuck, or irresponsible and make the necessary adjustments. We all have challenging elements in our environment and we always get to choose our response. Remember, this is only a season.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman (PMP, PCC) is a speaker, author, and leadership coach with Leading Synergies. She hosts global masterminds, called Synergy Groups, for REALLY BUSY Christians leading with powerful confidence and humble hearts. She works with high-performing leaders focused on organizational effectiveness by refining strategy, inspiring teams, and delighting clients. Michelle specializes in the areas of information technology, project management, franchise management, and business as mission. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 21 years.