Leaders Putting on their Leader Hosen (not a typo)

Hello everyone,

This is not a story filled with tips to help you work more effectively at home. 

Instead, it’s a story about what I call Leader Hosen.

Yes, Leader Hosen.

This is a story about the leaders all around you, each day. People with big names and jobs—people you’ve probably read about recently or listened to over the last few weeks. It’s also a story about people you don’t know, names you maybe never would have recognized before this pandemic hit us.

So, settle down into the couch or straighten up into that crappy office chair in your guest bedroom (it’s so bad that it should be put on the street with a “FREE” sign, right?). And then let me know the people who come to mind after you read my story.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been switching back and forth between reading the news and ignoring it. Going from, “Holy $#@%! We’re doomed!” to “It’s going to be just fine. Let’s eat some chocolate and meditate. Let’s take a walk around the block.”

I’m guilty of sticking my head in the sand some lately. I’m also guilty of coming pretty darn close to losing it. For example, I almost lost it with the neighbors who decided to rent a jackhammer and jackhammer their patio for 8 days (yes, 8) after California’s shelter in place order was issued. So, almost the entire neighborhood is at home and their kids are home and people are trying to work. And this couple wants to redo their patio now. I came close. Very close to losing it. 

So, what’s up with the Leader Hosen?

This time last year I was trying to come up with a name for this business—for Awesome Leader. I asked my husband, master of puns, for ideas, and he came up with this one: Leader Hosen. He said, “You know . . . people need to wear their leadership pants. Their leader-hosen. It’s a play on Lederhosen!” 

I thought it was a funny name. Pretty darn funny. If you got the joke. I rejected it as a business name, and I decided on the name Awesome Leader soon after.

But, this past weekend, as I was pulling weeds in the garden (this is very soothing to me: weeds are there and then you remove them—bingo—they are gone), I found myself really wrapped up with the psychological burden of trying to dissect the terrible leadership behavior worldwide right now.

It is exhausting. It is infuriating.  

Then it came to me. Why the heck am I not paying more attention to all the leaders out there doing amazing work? Like really paying attention to them.

And, the first person who came to my mind was German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

She is the Chancellor of the fourth largest economy in the world. And she goes grocery shopping herself. And in all the panic buying of the last month, she buys two rolls of toilet paper.

Chancellor Merkel also practices social distancing while shopping. Wow. 

And, in this time of crisis, she stands up to her country and essentially says, “This is serious. No more than two people gather at a time. Stay at home. Don’t mess with this. This is serious.” (In my dreams, she also says, “Get your s**t together and stay at home–or else.”)

Chancellor Merkel is an Awesome Leader. She is wearing her Leader Hosen.

That means she wakes up each day and thinks about her role as a leader—for her country and for the world. She is thinking about the future. She is thinking about humanity. She is thinking about the people she needs to guide. And the strong messages she must send. And the actions she must take. Or more people will die. 

So, I’m calling out Angela Merkel out as a certified Awesome Leader. She wears Leader Hosen every day. She is a global citizen.

Here are some other people I see wearing Leader Hosen.

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York. I get chills when I watch him speak. He is articulate. He is direct. He is firm. He pushes back—in a thoughtful manner. He is empathetic. 

Governor Gavin Newsom of California. The state has ventilators it can share, so he offers to share them. He says he “owns” the lag in testing in the state. He admits mistakes. 

Governor Jared Polis of Colorado. He wears a face mask for a press conference?! He does first what we all need to do: wear a face mask. 

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar of Ireland. He is leading a country, and he is going back to work as a doctor one week a month. Why? Because people are dying and he’s a doctor. If you’ve never heard of the Taoiseach—that’s his title in Irish—you have know.

The Italian Mayors imploring people to stay at home. Wow. I’m afraid to leave my house, and I’m 6,247 miles away from Rome. 

The Prime Minister of Norway, who gave a press conference for children on March 16, 2020. She told them it was OK to be afraid. She’s right.

PayPal. I applaud PayPal for changing its fee structure so instant transfers cost nothing.

Nextdoor. They created a “Help Map” so neighbors can list themselves as sources for isolated people who need help: a call, groceries, or a wave from 6 feet away.

Zocalo Coffeehouse. To the owner of a favorite cafe, who each day sets up up a velvet rope to cordon off the line of customers from those walking on the sidewalk. Because she is in there with her limited staff, who explain to me each time how the stylus pen is sanitized after each customer uses it and how while they cannot allow you to use your own mug for drinks right now, they are happy to still offer you the .25 cent discount. 

Laurie, my neighbor the ER nurse. Do I need to explain why she is a leader? She is one of the healthcare professionals saving your family and friends. 

I’m done trying to figure how messed up (yes, I’m a California native) some leaders are now. You know: the ones messing things up as we (the world) try to move through this pandemic in a strategic, fast, and humane-centered approach must do.

I no longer want to figure these people out. I will never understand them.

Instead, I want to celebrate the amazing, strong leaders among us. 

These leaders are embracing their roles and acting like, “Dang, this is bad. This is tough. We need help. Wait a second. I can do it. I can help. I am going to help.”

This is what we need now. Spotlights on the people who are helping their communities, their businesses, their countries, and the world to recover and rebuild.

There are strong, brave, bold, AWESOME leaders among us. Who is on your list? Who is wearing the Leader Hosen in your community?

Tell me who those people are. And, actually, first tell them. Tell them they are the leaders we need to follow.

Finally, yes, I do know what Lederhosen really are, especially since I’m half German and speak the language. And to my German friends who roll their eyes at this, I say, in Hochdeutsch/High German, “Es tut mir leid” and in my Dad’s dialect, I say, “Des duad mr arg leid!” And I sure hope to see you next summer.

Let me know your questions and thoughts—and who your leaders are,

P.S. Wear. The. Mask.