One of the greatest challenges we all face is the understanding and embracing of our own leadership potential. Even the mostly highly paid executives struggle with internal questions about personal effectiveness as leaders. This is normal. Our attitudes, outcomes, beliefs, prejudices, fears, hopes, glories and broken places have led us all to practices that others celebrate or question, that we ourselves celebrate or question.
At the same time, we’re all leaders in some capacity or another. It doesn’t matter if we have the title or not. And, there is a profound difference between having the title and being the kind of leader to whom people are drawn to and to whom people commit to and trust at a deep level. The former are just titleholders, while the latter are true leaders. The kind of leader who engages and inspires whenever they are present.
In our experinece, true leaders are not born that way; crossing the bold line between holding a title and true leadership takes courage and work. It requires that we hone our faith in others and in ourselves. Not blind faith, but rather faith that comes from paying attention and being present while being vulnerable.
We could talk about practices all day, but where they live is out there in the marketplace, in the hallways, offices, meeting rooms, and living rooms. This is a good time to remember that like attracts like. When we embrace higher practices, we are soon surrounded by higher practices. When we indulge in inferior practices, we can expect to produce inferior results.
Replacing practices is a challenge, and that’s the point. We cannot differentiate our company or ourselves by taking a well-worn familiar path.
Joseph Campbell explained that the “Hero” is heroic because at some point he steps off the path that everyone else is on and heads into the woods where there is no path and no indication of help. But he does it anyway. It’s the first step into the woods that is the heroic moment. And then everything changes. Help appears that is exactly what he needs, when he needs it. It is there for him alone.
What is the path you have to step off of and on to?
Leaders should spend more time looking and listening than we do talking and selling, more time laughing than frowning, and more time delighting one another than irritating one another.
We should embrace change rather than cling to old ways, under the delusion that motion and direction are the same thing.
We have to make connections, at a deep level. Create them every day, on purpose. We need to make more and more of them. Connect the people in our homes and businesses and cities and countries, so that we and our children and our colleagues and customers breathe connection in and out like oxygen.
Many would say it’s the day-to-day grinding it out that moves the dial, the ruthless execution of rallying people around results like stock prices, quarterly revenues, profits and losses. Many would say that, is that your path?
A Mentor once said to me, more than once. “You know what to do.”