What does leadership mean to you?
After a recent corporate session, I was approached by a young employee who was extremely keen to meet up over coffee to discuss my views on leadership. I welcomed the opportunity to meet someone new so we scheduled a catchup for the following week.
It turned into a wonderful 45 minute session which involved learning about each other and sharing our views on workplace culture, the role of leaders in society and what true leadership meant to each of us. He was so insired by my perspective that he asked me to write it down for him, and that is how this blog came into existence.
Based on his questions, here are my musings on leadership.
What does leadership mean to you?
To me, leadership embodies opportunity. It is an opportunity to empower, an opportunity to guide and an opportunity to support others to be their best. I truly believe that the true measure of a leader is his or her ability to inspire greatness in others.
There are three components of leadership which I believe are of great importance:
1) VISION. Leadership is less about title and more about the ability to translate vision into reality. It involves taking someone on a journey, helping them see the desired end point, and then ensuring that they recognise the important role they play in bringing it to reality. It is about providing direction and casting long shadows.
2) EMPOWERMENT. A true leader empowers those he or she works with to want to be their best, to be committed to their own ongoing development and growth, and to ultimately empower these people to become leaders in their own right. It is about accompaniment, motivation and inspiration so that your people feel valued and powerful. People will always be their best selves when they feel empowered, supported and inspired.
3) COMPASSION. Leadership requires compassion. It requires a commitment to people, to respect and to a generosity of spirit. A predisposition towards benevolence and a genuine desire to create lasting, positive change is vital. Compassion and people-centricity breeds positivity and importantly taps into the relationship building part of the brain. It involves being connected with your people, taking affirming action, keeping promises and ‘aligned’ with the needs of others and creating a collaborative, compassionate, respectful culture.
What wisdom have you gained from your own experience or from great leaders that have helped you to develop?
I have learned so much from my experiences and from the great leaders I have had the privilege of working with.
In short, ‘Leaders cast great shadows.’ Being a leader brings with it great responsibility. You must see everything as an opportunity to be better and make a difference. Leadership is a journey, not a destination, and requires ongoing growth, reflection and a commitment to improve.
It is important to know what you stand for – what your driving values are – and maintain an unwavering commitment to these. This is what gains you the respect of others and enhances your ability to influence. Nothing influences greater than a positive attitude. Positivity breeds positivity, and we all have the power to choose happiness. A leader’s role is helping people realise this power and become empowered to be a better version of themselves, creating their own happiness and driving their sense of purpose.
How do you see yourself as a leader? What’s your sense of purpose?