Early in my political career, while advising candidates on how to win campaigns so they could "earn" the ability to lead, or govern, I realized that I, and the political culture I served, had the formula backward. A failure to authentically lead during one's campaign was only creating a trajectory that resulted in failed leadership once in office. You can't campaign one way and govern in another.
As my leadership work expanded throughout the next 25 years, I understood the same disconnect exists for most people--that somehow people believe that who they aspire to be once they are elected, promoted, recognized or awarded will be different from the person they are now - the person who feels un-empowered, unmotivated, confused and stuck. But here's the truth: Things don't suddenly change for people once they achieve some milestone; the true sign of leadership is daily attention to being at one's best.
Without conscious attention to continual leadership development, the patterns, doubts and fears that existed before the achievement will creep in again. Look no further than the gridlock in Congress as evidence of this phenomenon; candidates running for office to elevate their status and maintain power continue to operate this way to the point where governance has ceased and the "campaign" never ends--everyone is always trying to outmaneuver the others for personal political gain. Leadership that never existed cannot be lost.
Individuals function at their best when they understand who they are and what they want to contribute to the world, and when they align their words, actions and deeds with their talents, strengths and skills. By bolstering leadership skills of communication, conscious choice and conflict resolution, the people I work with are able to fully participate in organizations and create healthy, balanced teams that achieve the real-world results they desire.
When we reach a new peak, it's an opportunity to review what's working, what isn't and align our leadership and lives to the next adventure. If we lead on our journey, then we will reach the destination we truly want, prepared to fully enjoy and grow from the experience--not somehow magically changing once we get there.
Leadership is about creating our best self now. It is living leadership, your leadership, every day; and in so doing, creating a path that is enjoyable and getting you to your destination prepared to have the impact you desire. There is no end to expanding your leadership; it is the reflection of you, your life and the unique gifts you offer the world.