Skip to main content

It's situational and it's not...


My brother & I talk a lot and it has brought us closer, especially during our "philosophical" discussions.  We like to dive deep into our passion areas, share what we've learned from books, articles, Ted Talks, work situations, parenting, etc.  We just go with whatever is on our minds in a healthy banter. One thing keeps coming up regardless of topic is leadership & its close relationship with character.  We agree on one point...leadership is situational but character isn't.


Predictability in this area is a strength.  If we treat people with dignity & respect we can expect them to pay it forward to others.  A strong connection to our character can help us overcome ever changing work/life dynamics with the right amount of compassion.  Our display of the golden rule helps encourage personal growth & is without judgement.  We need everyone...together is better.  Is what we're doing getting us closer to our goal?  Only you decide.  Character is doing the right thing even when nobody is looking & compromising isn't fun to reconcile later.  Our compromising actions are what we talk about in therapy sessions right?

Leadership is always "situational"

Everyone has a set of talents, skills, abilities & passions we need to tap into. In a sense, companies "buy" these from employees to move the enterprise forward.  Our ability as leaders to harness collective wisdom & encourage collaboration toward any goal is paramount.  Sometimes we have what it takes to do this & sometimes we don't.  It remains "situational" always. Reading the situation to provide the right key ingredient makes all the difference with individuals & the team.  Knowing when to help more, present a challenge to ignite passion, drop an idea to see where it leads or become a partner to idea development are all opportunities for growth & encourage "leading" from everyone involved.

Leaders typically do these things so well they become habit...

  • Sets a coaching environment & doesn't drive employees
  • Generates enthusiasm instead of inspiring through fear
  • Says "we" not "I"
  • Fixes the breakdown without placing blame
  • Shares how it's done instead of simply knowing
  • Develops people not use them
  • Gives away credit instead of taking it
  • Asks instead of directing
  • Says "lets go" instead of "go"


Character & leadership are tied together through ethics.  Ethics in its simplest form, to me, is when we can look ourselves in the mirror & are happy with who we see.  The decisions we've made and actions we've taken are in line with how we want to live according to our "values".  So, ethics is a result of us putting into action choices that align with those things we hold most important in life.

Life is all about choices.  We can choose what to value & how to act/interact with those around us.  All of this has ramifications on others.  This awareness is the beginning of leadership development; understanding how we influence others positively or negatively.  This focus gets us away from aspects of life we can't control (problems or the past) puts emphasis on the present & a preferred vision of a future state.  Thoreau said "know thyself". This has to be first before we begin to realize growth as a leader.  If we can't "manage" ourselves, how can we tackle the responsibility of leading anyone?

"Courage is being scared & saddling up anyway."  -John Wayne

Having courage for our convictions is developed through a strong sense of what we believe (values) & staying true to them in our daily lives (ethical decisions).  This is our platform for leading.  Deciding to focus on others (leading) with a humble approach guides us to the "right" interactions based on the situations we find ourselves in.

"You're never wrong to do the right thing."  -Mark Twain

It takes more courage than we are prepared to admit to live as an extension of our values.  The diverse situations we are faced with on a daily basis can be tough.  The capacity to help others creates an "acceptance space" for them to flourish.  It's only when we really know ourselves that we can be open & humble for everyone to develop in the specific ways each situation dictates.  You'll inspire others with your solid character & be humble enough to let go to develop others.  This is your leadership strength, go for it!

Add Comment

Comments (0)


About the Extension Foundation

The Extension Foundation was formed in 2006 by Extension Directors and Administrators. Today, the Foundation partners with Cooperative Extension through liaison roles and a formal plan of work with the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) to increase system capacity while providing programmatic services, and helping Extension programs scale and investigate new methods and models for implementing programs. The Foundation provides professional development to Cooperative Extension professionals and offers exclusive services to its members. In 2020 and 2021, the Extension Foundation has awarded 85% of its direct funding back to the Cooperative Extension System, 100% of funds are used to support Cooperative Extension initiatives. 

This technology is supported in part by New Technologies for Ag Extension (funding opportunity no. USDA-NIFA-OP-010186), grant no. 2023-41595-41325 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Extension Foundation. For more information, please visit You can view the terms of useat

Link copied to your clipboard.