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The Alcoholic Leader

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What is a Leader?

I recently attended a two day class on leadership skills. At this class they encouraged us to come up with our own definition of a leader. Sounds easy right? Well I have no idea what my definition is so I'm writing this paper to try to coax it out of me. I do my best thinking with a pen in my hand or a keyboard at my fingertips.

I think in order to be an effective leader you really do have to have a good and honest understanding of who you are, what you know, what you need to know, and what you can and can't do. In order to get people to trust and follow your lead, you have to first gain their trust. You have to actually BE what you want you want your team to be or accomplish.

Right now you're probably wondering what this is all about right? Well, I'm an alcoholic. I haven't had a drink in over two years now, and I'm a manager at a fast food restaurant. You ask how any of this is related to leadership or alcoholism? Well I believe that it very well is a treatment related topic. Why? Because I believe that a recovering addict is a perfect candidate for a leadership role. In order to be a good leader you have to discover yourself and be able to honestly question the values you hold near and dear to yourself. And who better at self discovery than a recovering alcoholic or addict? The whole principal behind recovery is self awareness. In effect you have to lead yourself every day into a new way of living and dealing with life in general. In my opinion many alcoholics and addicts were born leaders. They just lack the motivation or are afraid to try, such has been the case with me for most of my life.

I believe that because of my addiction, not in spite of it I have a better understanding of basic human nature than your average person that has never had to battle any kind of addiction or change themselves in any way.

Most kinds of leadership is based loosely on the E.A.R.S. concept, which is that in every situation you first have to explore the problem or situation and everything surrounding it. You must then Analyze the whole picture, not just the parts your comfortable with but everything. Once you have a clear foothold of knowledge about the situation you can then Respond to it in an effective manner with a greater chance of success. Once this is accomplished all you have to do is make the solution stick.

At any time in this process if you find you don't have enough information to come up with a solution you can always go back to the beginning and explore some more, the process is not linear, you can move forward or backwards within the model.

Looking at all this information it became very clear to me that being a leader is much like recovery, and who has a better idea of how it works than someone who is already successful in recovery? Now I really want to break it down and discuss the style and ideas I hold on to that allow me to be an effective if not overly good leader. Just bare with me cause this could be a long and bumpy ride to the end of this line of thought.

I have so many ideas about leadership and recovery that I find it hard to settle on what to talk about. First and foremost, at work one of the first things we learn is the "how we work together principals." They go something like this

1. Customer Mania- which is basically the old adage that the customer is always right. We strongly stress that you have to really honestly listen to and believe the customer in order to make their experience a positive one each and every time they come in.

2.Belief in people-which means that we believe both the customer when they say something's wrong, and also believe in our fellow team members to do the right thing every time.

3. Recognition-we celebrate in small success as well as the large ones, we pat each other on the back and love a job well done.

4.Coaching and support- We coach and support each other first by recognizing the quality's that we appreciate in each other, then with how we can be more effective.

5. Accountability-which simply means that we do what we say we're going to do to the best of our ability, and if we make a mistake we admit it and move on.

6. Executional excellence-we beat our old goals and always strive to be better in every little thing we do. We act like owners.

7. Positive Energy-we approach every day with a fresh attitude and constantly strive to do even better tomorrow.

8. Teamwork-we acknowledge that we are a team and that we can't be successful without ever single part of that team.

Now we tie all these principals into recovery by looking at them from another point of view.

1. Customer Mania- is just A.A.'s teaching us that in order to get well we have to get outside ourselves and do stuff for other people for a change.

2. Belief in people-A.A. says that in order to be of any help to anyone you have to believe in them and have faith that they will do the right thing even if they have messed up in the past.

3. Recognition-in A.A. we celebrate each and every day sober, and take one day at a time. We don't worry about the past or what the future may bring, we live for the moment.

4.Coaching and support-in recovery we have to learn all we can about our disease and lean on others for support to make it through hard times, once again we can't do anything if we don't work together with those that care about us, we can't do it alone.

5. Accountability-we take responsibility for our actions and further, we act responsible for our loved ones as well by helping them like they help us.

6. Executional excellence-we give a hundred percent to everything we do and feel good about it at the end of each day. If we fail to accomplish something we get some help and do it until we get it right.

7. Positive energy-we attack every day with the same steadfast iron will as we did the day before. We try to look on the brighter side of life. If we can't see the bright side we talk to someone until they point it out or help us to discover it.

8. Teamwork-Yep you guessed it we still can't do it on our own. We can't be too proud to ask for help, and accept it when it's offered.

All these principals we use every single day of our lives in varying degrees. The most important part of leadership and sobriety both is communication. You have to be able to honestly talk about yourself and what you want to get accomplished, people will not follow someone just because they wear a name tag that says they should. If you can't trust



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