The leaders who have impressed me most are those who serve. Whether they serve their teams, their organisational purpose, their own values, the people who elected them to power… the notion of seeing leadership as privilege & duty, rather than struggle & merit, seems to create a force that liberates at all sides of the equation. Something along the lines of ‘we don’t inherit the Earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children’ So my question would be…what or whom do you serve?
I’m not one of those people who pleads for showing ‘love’, just like I personally do not think co-workers are family (except for family-run organisations of course!). Such terms as love and family imply such a level of emotional unconditionality, which we simply cannot expect (we can hope to find it, but cannot expect it) in a professional context. That being said, I am a big believer in vulnerability. Show and accept it, be authentically and imperfectly you and allow others to do the same – and great things might happen. If I can help bust one myth, it’s this: vulnerable is not the same as weak.
Be the first to give
Based on the notion of reciprocity, which implies that people have a tendency to return the favour; I have found that it can be very powerful to choose to be the first to give. To give information; to give feedback; to give a bit of your time; to offer help; to share an idea; etc. Whether you see it as a selfless act of generosity, or instead as a cunning trick to influence the other in order to obtain what you want; the impact can be the same: you are likely to set something in motion. So beware!
I find that many people seem to struggle to find inner peace, let alone happiness. Be it at work, or in their broader life. People resign in great numbers, strive for physical rejuvenation & perfection, swallow drugs in unprecedented numbers, run rat-races, and so forth. I would like to offer some really simple, almost Buddhist-like antidote to that: accept what is, instead of chasing what is not. You missed that promotion? You didn’t get a raise? You didn’t get chosen to run that project? Someone turned you down, or let you down? Oh well…as long as you put in all that you had to give, the rest becomes irrelevant.
Build an inner circle
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. In the ten years since I started as a leadership consultant, I have invariably found that the strongest individuals were actually rarely alone. They excelled in self-awareness, knew their talents and shortcomings, and knew how to complement these (rather than ‘fixing’ themselves) with those of others, whether inside or outside the organisation. Strong leadership is often (though not always visibly so) a symbiotic team effort, more than individual star quality. In that sense, I find that leadership development is not merely a quest for individual growth, but also a journey of finding the right partnerships.
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