Leadership and the Self
The first step to being an effective leader is self awareness. How conscious you are of the leadership you practice, defines how effective you are.
My friend, mentor and leader Karen West says the most fundamental question is: Why do you want to be a leader? What fuels your desire to lead?
If the desire is to give, to add value, to make a difference – you will be one type of leader
If the desire is to compete, win, overthrow – you will be a different type of leader
If the desire is to fulfill your internal needs for social approval, have the good things in life – you will be yet another kind of leader
In reality, there are parts of each one of the above that drive our desires. The key is to be conscious of them, the key is to be aware of which desires can create blind-spots and become derailers. The key also, is to know which ones will fuel joy and success.
A wise man I knew once said, we’re all running in life. Some of us are running towards something we love and value. Others are running away from something we fear or dislike. We are all running, but the quality of the race is very different.
Do you know why you are running?
This is a good time to take a pause, sit back and think about why you want to be a leader.
My list is:
1. I believe I have the ability to provide clarity and direction – even when things are chaotic – I want to be able to help a team navigate through tough times in order to be successful
2. I believe I am able to help individuals harness their strengths and perform to their greatest potential
3. I believe in thinking out of the box and trying things differently and leadership gives me the ability to be able to do that
4. I believe in making a difference to the larger ecosystem that is our society, nation, environment and humankind. Leadership gives me the platform to be able to influence such a direction
5. I get bored by routine and doing the same thing day after day. I believe leadership enables me to have more “play” and influence on doing different things and taking on a variety of challenges
What’s your list?
Leadership is also about agility and being dynamic. The beliefs, styles, skills and attitudes that succeed for you in a particular context will not work all the time. Your ability to learn. To flex. To change. Will define sustainable success.
This is another good point to pause, and reflect on how you have changed in the last 10 years. An equally important question you must ask yourself is: What am I continuing to do that is either irrelevant or is not adding value, and I must change?
To paraphrase Jim Collins: Great leaders look to the window to shower praise and look to the mirror to find fault.
So what kind of leader do you want to be? Why? How are you going to make it happen? What do you need to change, starting now?
Become self-aware. Be more conscious of who you want to be and who you are being. And you will be on your way. Enjoy the race!