In the case of an emergency – lead!
Dawn breaking, I left down a rocky and steep path heading out of the town of Melide along the Camino. I was two days walk away from the end of my journey in the city of Santiago de Compostela. A Cuckoo echoed across the valley, welcoming in another beautiful Spanish morning. Blue skies expanded across the horizon. Eyes tired after another disturbed nights sleep.
Next to my bed was a door to the toilet. It scraped the floor like fingernails down a blackboard each time nature called. Nature called all night. The six pilgrims sharing the dorm that night earlier in the evening had paid homage to the local beer god “Estrella Galicia.” They worshipped with fervour, raising praise and glasses many times by the evidence of the trips to the bathroom.
Rucksack tight and compact, boots feeling comfy, I dodged out the way as a cyclist shouted from behind me. In a flash, the bike sped past. The wheels appeared far too small. The silver slim folding bike more suited to the daily commute to the local train station than rocky trails. Cyclists pedal the Camino every day. They complete the 800 odd kilometres the same as the walkers though I can’t imagine that St James used a bike! A Spanish family, father, mother and child, were even walking their bikes down the hill a few feet behind me.
The girl with a silver slim bike with wheels far too small.
The words,”that looks a strange bike to be riding along The Camino,” hadn’t completed leaving my mouth. I round a bend, I see a silver slim bike with wheels far too small upended, and crumpled body on the floor, no movement and silence. Adrenaline exploded through my veins. My brain kicked into gear. I was carrying the weight of a middle distance runner on my back. But I sprinted faster than Usain Bolt completed the 100 meters in the Gold medal race at the London Olympics.
The Brazilian girl regained consciousness. She searched for the security wallet around her waist. It contained an emergency medical card and tried to phone the number. Head bleeding, bruised and swelling from the lack of helmet, her right leg bent in a strange angle underneath her, she looked in serious condition. I eased her backpack off. By now a small crowd had gathered. The injured girl fitted as she went unconscious again as I held her head in my hands.
Scared, her eyes betrayed the fear, and alone, I offered to company her to the ER room. I faint at the sight of blood. Even the smell that a hospital evades can drop me to my knees and the for the rest of my body to follow. But I knew that I needed to serve that fellow pilgrim in her moment of terror. The local doctor who spoke little English finally understood the urgency as I acted out the two events of the pilgrim fitting. Blue lights and the siren sounds disappeared down the road. For the time being, this particular pilgrim was going to Santiago de Compostela by road.
Leadership calls for action.
There are times when we as leaders we will face a situation and it needs action there and then. Leadership develops and is forged in the experience of the day to day management of an organisation. But earns its name often in a moment of decisive action.
- Indecisive leadership in a moment of trouble is not leadership at all. (Tweet This)
- Leadership calls for action even in the face of fears.
- Being around leaders who won’t make a decision can be frustrating, suffocating and scary.
- Can that kind of leadership be coached? I believe it can.
Sometimes it needs the “eyes of an outsider” to help a leader catch sight of what is happening in a business or an organisation. A leader might see, but do they catch sight of where the vision of their business or organisation is heading? Do they have the right method to get them to their destination? Do they clearly know where their destination is?
The story ended well.
Another day I will write part 2 of the girl with a silver slim bike with wheels far too small.
For now, in the case of emergency, don’t just stand there … lead!
Image by Tim Geers – Flickr