This column highlights things leaders do well as examples for others to follow. Gabrielle Giffords’ resignation from congress is such a thing. It is a classic act of inspiration and enablement.

We are witnessing an amazing tale of overcoming adversity unfolding in real time. We all know the story of how Gabrielle Giffords was one of thirteen people injured, while six others were killed, in gunfire a year ago. We all have seen the stories of the miraculous care she received at the scene, at the hospital, and since then. We all have a sense of how her family and friends have rallied around her. It’s terrific.

If you have not watched her final appearance in Congress (this time around), do it now.

BRAVE Leadership

Giffords is not acting like a victim. She is demonstrating BRAVE leadership at its best:

  • She did not choose the context (environment) for her leadership. She did not choose to get shot. She did not choose the bipartisanship of the current Congress. But she is choosing to deal with them as best she can.
  • She has remained true to her core values, refusing to serve if she can’t serve 100 percent.
  • She is leading with a front foot attitude, not bemoaning what’s happened, but stepping out of the way now to come back stronger later.
  • She is treasuring and nurturing her relationships. Who else could get a bill passed unanimously by Congress these days?
  • Her behaviors are inspiring others and enabling them to continue where she left off – and setting her and all of us up for an exciting future.

A Lesson

Brian Greenspun put it well in his Las Vegas Sun article, “A lesson from Gabby Giffords’ resignation:”

When she stepped into the well of the House, that is what her colleagues saw. They didn’t see a Democrat or Republican; they saw a courageous colleague doing what she knew to be the right thing for the right reasons in keeping with her oath of office. They saw in her a demonstration of the kind of courage that each of them wished they possessed and could display, should the need ever arise. And they witnessed the kind of strength and resolve that defined her as the kind of American they all believed they were.

Like Giffords, business leaders will face things that require taking a step back before moving forward.  The lesson is to take that step back in a way that makes it easier to move forward later.  Those that do an honest assessment of their environment, demonstrate their values, approach the event with the right attitude, strengthening relationships along the way with behaviors that make positive impacts turn temporary set backs into wins.


Hope and Faith

The close of Giffords’ resignation letter lays it all out:

Hope and faith…Hope that our government can represent the best of a nation, not the worst. Faith that Americans working together – in their communities, in our Congress – can succeed without qualification. Hope and faith that even as we are set back by tragedy or profound disagreement, in the end we come together as Americans to set a course toward greatness.

This is a classic example of the heart of The New Leader’s Playbook: BRAVE Leadership

We’re all new leaders all the time. So remember all the time that leadership is about inspiring and enabling others to do their absolute best together to realize a meaningful and rewarding shared purpose. With that in mind, BRAVE leaders pay attention to their Behaviors, Relationships, Attitude, Values, and Environment – all the time.

Click here to read about each step in the playbook

Click here for YouTube videos highlighting each step

The New Leader’s Playbook includes the 10 steps that executive onboarding group PrimeGenesis uses to help new leaders and their teams get done in 100-days what would normally take six to twelve months. George Bradt is PrimeGenesis’ managing director, and co-author of The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan (Wiley, 3rd edition 2011) and the iPad app New Leader Smart Tools. Follow him at @georgebradt or on YouTube.