Adolf Hitler would feature in most lists of leaders of all time, but I would not want to fashion my leadership journey around him, would you? The intent of this post is not to identify the right leader to emulate but define a few guiding lights. Based on my experience and my observation of a few leaders that I have been associated with, I have come up five beacons that could guide us in our journey. Here we go.
Beacon #1: Unified Vision
Leadership is typically associated with one’s career or profession. Over the years, I have learnt that one has to take leadership in all facets of one’s life – Professional, Family, Health, Societal, and Spiritual. Success in one area influences the other. Focused effort in any one area demands support from others.
Unified Vision for one’s life will help the leader achieve coherence & balance across all the areas over a period of time.
Beacon #2: Vision to Action
“A leader is a person you will follow to a place you wouldn’t go by yourself” – Joel Barker. ‘Place’ is the Leader’s Vision – an image of the future. Strategy tells you how to get there. Action gets you there.
Many take ‘Action’ but that does not guarantee that they will realize their vision. Clarity, Focus, Intensity, Courage and Persistence differentiate those who will get there.
Beacon #3: Take people along
Inspiring people is very much a significant part of leadership. Connecting with people (not just communicating) and building trust are the foundations on which relationships are built. Relationship is the glue that will hold the group together when the ride gets rough. Leaders with influence not only have well-honed people skills but also become the kind of person people want to be influenced by.
While skills are important, ‘seeing people as people and caring for them’ (- Arbinger Institute) is the master key to taking them along with you!
Beacon #4: Who you are
Level of leadership that you reach will be limited by the kind of person you are. Your values & personal qualities like courage, integrity, humility & persistence will take you to great heights of leadership and also prevent you from falling down.
Great leaders have a personal philosophy that acts as a guidance system – helps them set their sails (- Jim Rohn); Personal philosophy helps to ensure that your behaviour is consistent with who you are.
Wisdom happens when you take action and learn from that experience.
Beacon #5: Personal Change
‘Personal Change’ is the toughest internal battle for leaders – but this is the lever that will help them scale newer heights. It requires awareness of what’s going on around you and self-awareness of what’s going on inside you.
Great leaders are humble – confident but humble; They are willing to learn from others and take guidance from mentors/coaches/gurus.
I also found that a sense of gratefulness is vital to help you navigate difficult times. Tough situations can feel like a bottomless pit but I found that gratitude often gave me a floor to stand on and catch my breath.
In a nutshell…
Remember these are beacons and not steps in your leadership journey. Leadership is a performing art according to Robert Joss. You cannot just read books or observe people and become a leader. You need to practice and learn from experience; To practice, one needs opportunity; Opportunity comes from seeking and taking responsibility.
We will elaborate on each of the beacons in upcoming posts. Stay tuned.