Cowardly Lion: Being Chief Means Facing Your Fears

Wizard of Oz Cowardly LionThe Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum believes that his fear makes him inadequate. He  did not understand that courage means acting in the face of fear.

Some background. My family knows a chief surgeon. This surgeon packed up his family and moved from the West Coast to the East Coast to start a new hospital program. A coast-to-coast move is a big deal especially when you have several kids of varying ages. He also brought along several members of his medical staff and their families as well. So this was a very important program for the hospital.

The program started and at first it seemed to be doing well but then things started to go wrong. As they say, “the wheels came off the bus”. The program started to loose support from hospital management and while the chief tried to correct the problems and bring the program back on track, ultimately he was unsuccessful and was removed as chief.  A major blow to anybody’s ego of course.

Now the program is in a tailspin until a new chief can be found. I am not going to get into the details about transitions, management, etc. The point I am trying to make here is this chief surgeon did not face his fears head on and fight for himself. There were obvious correctable mistakes in the program that even I as a layman saw. Also the surgeon had a pretty good contract and could have exercised his options. The hospital needed him. But no. Instead he packed up his family and headed back much to the dismay of his wife, family, and coworkers.

Whether you are a chief executive officer, chief information officer, or chief surgeon, you need to fight! Fight for your agenda, fight for your staff, fight for what is right, but most of all fight for yourself. If you are not going to fight for yourself, no one else will. By fighting you become a stronger leader and a more confident leader. Your reputation can only grow if you tackle your fears head on and deal with situations instead of packing up and running away. Why be chief if all you are going to do is runaway from your problems? Take a stand and fight!

4 thoughts on “Cowardly Lion: Being Chief Means Facing Your Fears

  1. I agree with your basic premise–you do have to stand up for what you think is right. However, I have seen people ruin critical relationships by doing this the wrong way. “Fighting” may actually require compromise, not an either/or outcome. You must understand your “adversary” and react accordingly. If “fighting” means a long conversation over drinks and dinner, then so be it. If it means getting a professional mediator or facilitator involved, that is OK too. I guess my point is that the definition of “fight” may be different in every situation–and we all need to be aware of the situation in order to react appropriately.

    • Thanks for the comment. I agree with you in principal. However, if you are being thrown under the bus then it becomes necessary to fight for your career. At that point what do you have to loose? The chief surgeon was not doing that, instead, he wanted to run away. A maneuver he has done in the pass.

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