I only recently watched Arianna Huffington's powerful keynote at INBOUND 2013 where she pushed home almost every point there was to make about the essence of new leadership. From allowing feminine values like compassion and caring to break into our thinking to the need to detach from technology occasionally and get more sleep!
As she addressed a room of potential leaders, she spoke about the qualities needed to lead as an individual and that made me think:
What if we've been looking at this in the wrong way all along? Perhaps not completely wrong but in very much a linear way at least. I mean, what if the disciplines required to lead are accurate but the scope through which we understand leadership is not?
What if this 'one man leads all', hollywood superhero image of what we're often told makes a great leader is actually a pretty big problem with how we perceive the notion of leadership itself?
That brought to mind our team where we have this line in our culture doc that says 'we grow together' and then I thought..we lead together too. Let me explain:
Leadership is often seen as:
the action of leading a group of people or an organisation, or the ability to do this
So my question is this:
How are we leading as individuals and can one person do everything?
Well, can one person do it all? Not really. I referenced Hollywood earlier as I think the media we consume plays a huge role in the way we process the world around us. There often seems to be disproportionate weight put onto a single individual's shoulders when in actual fact the load can be split very simply by incorporating other people's skills into the equation.
This may be due to understanding leadership through a traditional context and focusing on just a single dimension like giving orders or setting tasks.
One person may be gifted at guiding peers through times of emotional distress, another may be great at setting goals and making sure the team sticks to them.
You see, my point is, in our group there are many leaders, we have:
• a relationship leader
• a strategy leader
• an exercise leader
Leading is a multi level discipline where no one person can possibly be all of these things. Some of us lead by spreading good vibes, others through passing on knowledge, some people lead by creating a buzz in the workplace that motivates others.
You should lead at what you excel at and should be acknowledged and encouraged for doing that.
So are you willing to take on your role based on self analysis and without appointment or approval from others?
In today's world it's not just about what we do but why we do it. Leaders must be focused on the greater good for both their teams and the environment they live in.
With that in mind, here is my version of what leadership truly is:
Leadership is the ability to help other people get closer to a goal or desired state, to be a catalyst of positive progress
You could be anyone, hold any 'position' in society, make any kind of salary but you will only be leading if you are driving others forward, if you are acting as a catalyst towards them getting closer to where they need to be.
The fact of the matter is, we're all leaders. It's just that some of us haven't decided what we want to lead at yet and others haven't realised the full scope of the power we posses.