Punxsutawney Phil on Leadership

Punxsutawney Phil on Leadership

Seven hundred and forty-four days ago the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the US. For many leading during this season, it has felt like a never-ending winter. As leaders, is it wise to anxiously await the promise of brighter days? There may be a lesson Punxsutawney Phil can teach us on leadership during this season.

Phil is a weather forecasting groundhog that hails from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Followers of Phil believe he has accurately predicted the end of winter every year since the 1880s. Each year thousands gather around Phil as they anxiously await his forecast. A forecast determined by his shadow or lack thereof.

Like those awaiting a forecast from Phil, many of us anxiously await signs that a return to normal is imminent. Looking forward with hope and optimism can be an incredibly powerful tool in helping us endure long and difficult seasons. However, most circumstances require a balance of looking forward while remaining grounded in the here and now.

Unlike the crowds witnessing Phil’s February ritual, Phil actually seems indifferent to his shadow. Yes, Phil does survey the world outside of his isolated home, but he focuses more on the tasks at hand rather than obsessing about the possibility of the emergence of spring.

Does Punxsutawney Phil Use Pristine Portraits or Tattered Blueprints?

Painting a compelling vision of the future should be one of the top priorities we have as leaders. However, the portrait of the future should never erase the current responsibilities of the here and now. The goal of our vision casting should be to create an active blueprint that guides our daily tasks towards the future.

Sadly, many organizations did not survive the pandemic-induced gauntlet of the last few years. Most of these casualties occurred in organizations that wasted the pandemic longing for the return to normal. The pandemic caught them dreaming for the end of winter and a return to the brighter days of spring. Those that survived looked forward to brighter days, but that vision didn’t distract them from the realities of their current circumstances. They used the promise of the future to help them execute during the here and now.

I believe Punxsutawney Phil can teach us a lesson on leadership. We add value when we temper our longing for the next season with a healthy dose of execution during the here and now.

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