50 million men worldwide have had a vasectomy — what lessons can we learn from them and how can they be linked to leadership styles?
Since becoming a parent in January 2016, I have become a bit of a leadership junkie. Never before have I realised how influential what I say and do can be. Sure, I am an educator, I have held a variety of management positions, and I am now also a writer. But the stakes are higher when the person you lead is your daughter.
She is watching how I treat her mother, how I manage my emotions, how I put on my shoes, and repeating what I say and how I say it.
What’s frustrating is I have always been a leader, we all are, but I was not doing it with intent. If you communicate with anyone in any way, you have influence. If you have influence, you are by default a leader.
This brings us to the vasectomy.
So what are the leadership lessons we can learn from a procedure that may cause your scrotum (ball sack) to become bruised, swollen, and/or painful, with some men having ongoing pain in their testicles for the rest of their lives?
1: Full Monty Leadership
Dov Baron, leadership consultant, believes leaders are like the heroes from the stories we see in books and on screen. As heroes we refuse the call to adventure, because it’s scary or uncomfortable. I was not immediately keen on the vasectomy. But you seek out mentors who can guide you, and allies to help you on your journey. It is also a realisation that vulnerability is a strength, and it’s okay to talk about your fears and weaknesses.
I was scared about the vasectomy. There are articles online that have horror stories of blood, and swelling of grapefruit sized proportions. I nearly cancelled it. But I didn’t, I went through with it anyway, and I am sharing my story. Leadership is about vulnerability, and is their any time we feel more vulnerable than during a vasectomy?
2: Gutsy Leadership
There can be a tendency to hedge our bets or play it safe. We like staying in our comfort zone and we fear change. This is why Kodak stuck with film rather than going all in on digital.
As Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour says,
Of course as America’s first African-American female combat pilot, she is talking about warfare. But I am talking about a needle and my scrotum. Which takes more guts?
Sometimes the solution takes courage, and gutsy leaders can act on that.
3: Intent Based Leadership
Captain David Marquet believes there are leaders at every level, and when you give your team more authority, you actually create better leaders. In particular it is creating an environment where people feel proud of being part of something bigger than themselves, and contribute to the accomplishments of their organization’s goals.
Men are often absent from the contraception discussion. Sure, I have used a condom, one of the least effective contraceptive forms, but I have always expected my partner to eventually take responsibility by going on the pill, getting an implant, cap, sponge, or patch. Many of which have had horrible side effects.
But now I am part of not only the conversation, but the solution. And a solution that has a very high success rate. Of course there are consequences. We are moving forward as though it is not reversible, and we are happy with that. We adore our daughter, and our love for her has spilled out around the world, and it hurts when we hear about young children in pain, through neglect or abuse. So adoption is very much on the cards.
But I am taking responsibility for family planning, and it’s scary, and hurts, a lot. It may well be the most heroic thing I have ever done!
No doubt my wonderful wife will show her leadership skills as she sympathises and gives me comfort, and by never mentioning the pain of child birth.