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The Disable Athlete and Leadership

This story and the achievements of a disabled athlete made me think of some relationships between this story and the commitment to leadership.

She is a person who at some point in her life discovered that she was suffering from retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration and eventually became blind. She did not give up, she continued to engage in life and also in sport so much she participated in the Paralympic Games in the 1500 meters race, finishing in 3rd place.

How did she do it?

As for the practical aspect, tying her wrist with a ribbon to that of another person, a former middle-distance runner, and athletic trainer, who acted as her companion, allowing her to keep the right direction, thus becoming her sight.

But what really worked, and what made the athlete win, was her trust in his companion, who guided her with confidence in training and during the competition.

That athlete is an example for many blind people, but not only for them: hers is a challenge of self-empowerment that well represents what must also happen in the workplace. This is how a leader must work: showing the route and accompanying along the way. It is he who gives the vision to the team, who sets the goals, who shows how to achieve them, and, above all, who transmits trust. Those who decide to race with him must then put strength, passion, and talent to reach the finish line and get the result.

The tape metaphorically represents the use of feedback, the most useful tool to be  a good leader and lead your team to success, the last tool, but not least, that a good leader must use: a tool of dialogue, a continuous connection between two people, a mutual and constant adjustment. The manager gives the direction (vision), shares the goal but then it is the athlete, his employee, who strives and “executes” by putting competence and passion into it; but if he fails, if he goes off course, the leader is there ready to fix the race with advice and suggestions.

This is immediate leadership, of a driving power that never leaves you alone, while always allowing you the freedom to move and to go at your own speed. By running together we can correct each other, adjust, and above all adapt to each other’s “speed”, understood as personality and working methods.

Running tied with a ribbon is the metaphor of how the relationship between a leader and his team should be today: less hierarchical, made up of continuous dialogues and comparisons to build, step by step, a relationship of trust.

A good leader is one who can be trusted because he knows the way and if he knows it it is because he has already traveled it.

Aldo Delli Paoli
Aldo Delli Paoli
Aldo is a lawyer and teacher of law & Economic Sciences, "lent" to the finance world. He has worked, in fact, 35 years long for a multinational company of financial service in the auto sector, where he held various roles, until that of CEO. In the corporate field, he has acquired skills and held positions as Credit Manager, Human Resource Manager, Team leader for projects of Acquisition & Merger, branch opening, company restructuring, outplacement, legal compliance, analysis and innovation of organizational processes, business partnerships, relations with Trade Unions and Financial Control Institutions. After leaving the company, he continued as an external member of the Board of Directors e, at the same time, he has gone back practicing law and was a management consultant for various companies. He has been also a columnist for newspapers specializing in labor law, automotive services and work organization. His interests include human behavior in the organizational environment, to the neuroscience, the impact of new technologies, the fate of the planet and people facing poverty or war scenarios. He loves traveling, reading, is passionate about many sports, follows the NBA and practices tennis.

4 COMMENTS

  1. A superb play on the word “vision”, Aldo; in this case literally, in management more allegorically.

    I loved the story for the tenderness and trust the two must have had between them. We hear so many stories of trainers behaving like absolute morons towards their charges. It has to stop.

  2. Hi Aldo- this is a short post, but is not short in its deep meanings and lessons.

    In our VUCA world we are not walking in daylight. Mostly, we walk in the darkness of the unknown . Your story about the leader and the blind is so well described and reflects our world today.

    Loved reading this “This is how a leader must work: showing the route and accompanying along the way. It is he who gives the vision to the team, who sets the goals, who shows how to achieve them, and, above all, who transmits trust. Those who decide to race with him must then put strength, passion, and talent to reach the finish line and get the result” is spot on. This is the kind of leaders we need today.

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