Leadership is a word we all use regularly – sometimes because we have a deep-felt sense of what it means and sometimes as an expression of power or authority or maybe responsibility and accountability.
As anyone who has ever thought deeply about leadership will know it’s a concept and practice that has more definitions, dimensions, and academic texts than most others. There are much vaunted role models, evolutionary stages, ever higher standards (ideally), and endless consultants (like me) with an opinion (and hopefully some wisdom) on how it’s best executed.
In my experience though, leadership at its best is a vocation like any other vocation. It’s a way of life, a sense of purpose, a set of values and standards to which we hold ourselves. It is underpinned by a deep, heartfelt passion that inspires us and others. It invokes in us a courage to be our best on behalf of others.
Leadership isn’t an ego-driven practice. For sure the ego is needed to enable confident self-expression but ego isn’t the master of the true leader. The true master of any vocational leader is their heart and their soul. Leaders are driven by an ability to see that through their efforts and service they can make things better in small and, sometimes, big ways. Not better in order to make money. Better in order to improve and uplift…within an individual or a team, on behalf of clients or other stakeholders and sometimes even on behalf of the world at large.
True leaders are rarely focused on EBITDA or shareholder value. They commit themselves to improvement and changes (in themselves and others) because they can feel the true value in eliminating anything that stops others from expressing their highest potential.
If we all commit ourselves to leadership as a vocation, we would draw on a reservoir of capabilities and talents that would significantly change the world around us.
Let’s move on from corporate speak and conformity and release the true essence of leadership in ourselves and others.