To step into leadership is to step within. The leadership journey starts inside, and if one can’t master leading oneself, how is it possible to even consider leading others?
Born or bred, the direction is the same. Always inwards to understanding and working with the core of who and why and what one is. I’m not talking psychotherapy here, but the good internal enquiry that considers such questions as:
- What do I really believe about this?
- What values or principles do I hold around this subject?
- What’s my role in this?
- Why does what I do/stand for serve the greater good?
- Is my ego talking my walk, or is it leading me around?
Leadership is about creating, inspiring, involving not just others, but oneself, for the sake of something that has not yet become. This requires skills that are not currently taught in schools, or by our mechanistic past. Leadership requires being able to see beyond the obvious, being willing to take the personal risk of looking foolish or ‘outside’. It’s about integrity and authenticity which one either has, or not. It comes in many brands and flavours, sizes and colours.
The biggest ‘ah-ha’ is that no amount of left-brained analysis, mimicking the actions of other leaders, or reading countless books on leadership styles can come close to understanding oneself from the inside out. There is a daily act of courage that is part of the nascent leader’s journey – it is to be OK with not knowing. It is the first step to holding paradox, which is a leader’s true domain.
We live – as every generation does – in interesting times. The world is changing more rapidly than ever before. And faster is not necessarily better. Leadership is not driven through reaction, it is driven from a deep well of clarity about what is fundamentally the right action at the right time. It’s about agility, risk, expansion and the chaos of creation.
Since any act of leadership is not restricted to any one class of person, none of us knows when we will be called upon to take action as a leader. None of us truly knows how we will respond to the call.
We can however, look around in our daily lives and ask, what are my actions and thoughts leading me toward, and who is coming with me?
The answer lies within.