LEAD From Your Center
“Contrary to popular opinion, leadership is not a reserved position for a particular group of people who were elected or appointed, ordained or enthroned. Leadership is self-made, self-retained, self-inculcated and then exposed through a faithful, sincere and examplary life.”
Many people have leadership titles. But, many fewer in these roles are true leaders. Leadership is often confused with management. In their book, Essentials of Management, Harold Koontz and Heinz Weihrich define management as “the process of designing and maintaining an environment in which individuals, working together in groups, efficiently accomplish selected aims.” Management is about productivity and efficiently implementing a predetermined direction for an organization, whether it is a corporation, government entity, non-profit, or family.
By contrast leaders are “social influencers,” who create and inspire a vision for the common good of an organization and its contribution to the larger society. Leaders are able to effectively communicate their vision, so others can clearly see it. Leaders then engage those they lead and give them the tools to succeed, which evokes the collective passion and drive to achieve the vision.
True leaders know themselves. They live from their center and they embody the values they espouse. Others look to leaders to see if they are trustworthy to follow. Do the leaders really “walk their talk?” Do they hold themselves and others accountable for follow through? Do the leaders listen to the creative input of others and adapt their strategy as needed to achieve an even greater collective vision than they personally originally envisioned?
People instinctively know whether those in leadership roles are true leaders. When leaders are out of sync with their own center, it can lead the whole group astray. This is why, as so many organizations have found out the hard way, an organization can only go as far as their leader has evolved.
True leadership creates a foundation of trust and creativity that allows an organization to soar. This is the type of organization that often earns a reputation as a great place to work. People flock to opportunities to contribute their unique gifts to a lofty vision they never thought was possible to fulfill.
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Practice self Leadership
Not everyone in an organization will have the title of leader. But, from a heroic perspective, we all have opportunities to lead, no matter what position we hold in an organization. The key is practicing self leadership in our work, whether it is in the performance of our tasks or our interactions with others. This is true whether we are statisticians, hair stylists, librarians, short order cooks, warehouse supervisors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, construction workers, administrative assistants, sales people, or nuclear physicists. It is also true whether we work in a traditional setting or a situation that does not involve formal employment.
When we practice self leadership we turn within for how to conduct ourselves. We lead from our values, innate gifts and aspirational goals. The actions we take become focused and purposeful. We behave with others in ways that are clearer and more honest. While people around us may look to others to set their standards for what is acceptable and not acceptable in their work, we look to our own standards of excellence. When others act in unscrupulous ways, we are not tempted to follow suit, since personal integrity is our guiding principle. While colleagues might cut down one another in a “dog eat dog” competition to get ahead, we focus on being the best version of ourselves possible. We let our actions and natural leadership qualities shine and speak for themselves.
An important facet of self leadership is knowing when to lead and when to follow. On the surface this may seem like an oxymoron. But, when we pay attention at a deeper level and we are honest with ourselves, we know when it is time to turn to our inner reliance and when to reach out to others for guidance, input or assistance.
It is helpful to look to other leaders as role models. At some point, though, if we want to move leadership from theory to practice, we have to stop shadowing others. We must set our own direction, risk making mistakes, pick ourselves up when we feel defeated, regain our sense of balance and continue moving forward to prove to ourselves that we are true leaders. It is this heroic level of courage, internal fortitude and strength of character that forges a new leadership path that is uniquely your own.
There are many ways you can practice self leadership. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
Lead With Heart
When we practice self leadership, we know that leading with heart is key to our success and ability to actually connect with others. Without heart, we operate as mere automatons. This detachment from our sense of Self, makes it impossible to fully connect with others, much less be an influencer or hold a vision that inspires them to follow!
Let Your Leadership Reflect Your Core STrength
Leading from our center with heart doesn’t mean we are weak leaders. To the contrary. It reveals the level of our personal development under the leader persona. It also gives us the inner strength to do what we know is the action called for to benefit the good of the whole, even when it is personally challenging or counter to our personal interest.
Become Comfortable with Discomfort
Leading from our center does not mean we always know what we are doing or we are in total alignment with our values. It does mean we make personal and collective course corrections to get things back on track. This effort often takes a heroic level of courage, self-examination and commitment to personal growth, which inevitably brings discomfort. While the discomfort is challenging, it also helps us create “transformational opportunities” for ourselves and our organization.
Learn Servant Leadership from Inside Out
Most organizations in the world today operate from a “financial first” model, which doesn’t take into consideration a higher purpose and sees people as mere cogs in the business machine. By contrast, servant leadership sees businesses as serving institutions dedicated to helping those served draw meaning and purpose from the work they do.
Get to the Heart of Organizational Transformation
Leading your team through change efforts can be a challenge. To lead your organization through the transformational process, however, requires special skills. What is required is leading from your heart as well as your head, through the unknown, as you listen to the “hearts and minds of the many.”
We’re Here to Support You
While you have a unique heroic path to follow in life, you don’t have to do it alone. We support you through Life Guidance Mentoring and Leadership Development Mentoring.