Management is a way of doing; leadership is a way of being
When it comes to leadership I’m no expert. Learning to lead reminds me of learning to parent: despite the proliferation of manuals, when push comes to shove the answer is in myself, not the manual. Lessons on leadership are everywhere and ongoing.
Here are some of the leadership lessons I have been thinking about. These represent my best intentions, even if not always fully realized. This is about the journey.
Practice radical authenticity. Encourage others to do the same. The more we bring our true selves to our personal and professional relationships, the more joyful and connected we become. We are all connected.
When others disagree, get curious. Discover more. Go beyond valuing alternate perspectives – fearlessly evoke them. Seek not to be understood, but to understand.
You are always leading, even when you’re following. Leadership is not about being in charge, it’s about supporting others’ success, modeling integrity, being accountable and caring passionately. Align how you follow with how you lead.
Disrupt the status quo. Homeostasis is the enemy of innovation. We are all always striving for that perfect balance, but when we find it that’s usually the signal that something is about to change! As Aldous Huxley said, “Every ceiling when reached becomes a floor.”
Affirm autonomy – always. No matter how non-negotiable the directive, policy, task, procedure…never forget that people always have the option of walking away. And when given an ultimatum, many do. “People are most able to change when they feel free not to.”
Live your values and learn what others value. Find avenues to link work with these deep, personal values at every opportunity. That is meaningful work.
In short, leadership is wholly volitional, decidedly not positional, and most effective when unconditional.