By Pete Laburn
The world is filled with masquerading leaders, driven by personal agendas and selfish ambition. At the same time, it truly appears to be leaderless. It is a sad reality and it is not serving us well.
Much consideration is given to why this is the case. But the efforts are misplaced, because they are focused on what leaders do, not who leaders are being. The world is largely obsessed with outputs, achievements and, frankly, personal gain. This is not leadership. And it certainly will not contribute to constructively remedying the challenges the world is facing.
Somewhere close to sixty billion dollars per annum is spent on Leadership development, according to Barbara Kellerman, in her book, “The End of Leadership. So much of this is wasted because the vast majority of resources are focused on competency-based training, trying to influence what we are doing and not who we are being.
I believe that the root of this crisis, (yes, I believe the world is in a leadership crisis), is a lack of understanding of the nature of true leadership. What does true leadership entail and what results should it evoke?
There are many definitions for leadership. I like this simple one:
“Leadership is the ability to influence others to voluntarily follow”.
Of course, this does not differentiate between the ‘rightness’ or ‘ethics’ of the influencer at this stage.
This definition implies that:
- Anyone who assumes that leadership equates to power, authority and coercion is not leading – but managing (or manipulating) for personal advantage.
- Real connection to others is fundamental. If we are out of touch, disconnected, we cannot influence.
- Something of value is given. Whether it is ideas, opportunity, even hope – it is something that others buy into and want to follow.
- Followers are the only ones who can change things. If no one if following, nothing will happen, and the ‘leader’ is taking a solitary, ego-stroking walk.
- A leader is very much his or her own authentic person and we all have the ability to influence in our own unique way.
- Leadership is a choice. We either choose to influence, or we choose to abdicate and leave it to others. It is often a choice weighed on risk and reward.
- Essentially, leadership is an expression of who we are and who we are being. Effective leadership will reflect our style, our approach and, scarily, our own agendas.
The Lead with Humanity team will unpack these seven thoughts over a series of opinion-based leadership articles to follow. Please join us as we offer our ideas on rethinking the essence of leading with true humanity – something the world desperate needs.