I want to give you good news and some news that, while not necessarily horrific, will require some stretching on your part as you read further. For some people aspiring to be leaders (or those already there wanting to improve), that may be bad news.
First, the Good News
It's no longer "oh, I don't have the natural gifts of a leader..." or, "I'm not a people person." The reality is everyone can learn and apply the principles, but don't be fooled, it will take hard work and discipline. So far with me?
What we are finding is that organizations around the world are changing their attitudes toward leadership, people, and relationships. Leadership has been written and talked about for decades, with great authors defining it in different ways calling it different things.
In the end, most of these folks have been talking about the same things: the simple truth that leadership and life are about people and relationships. It's about who you are, not what you do.
That should immediately inspire some people and repel others, depending on your relational orientation or personality type. Not all of us are cut from the same extroverted, people fabric.
It may also repel if you have a managerial orientation to leadership. Truth is, they are apples and oranges. Management doesn't aspire to lead people from the neck up; leadership aspires to lead people from the neck up really well, making the nuts and bolts of "management" much more, well, manageable.
Before I Tell You the Bad News...
Since I've been doing this for a while, I'll be the first to admit, not everyone reading this will have a positive view of what I feel, and research has confirmed, is the best leadership philosophy on the planet.
I say this because the cold transactional business world hasn't caught on to it yet, giving my business a clear missional path of changing the world one leader at a time.
I speak of Servant Leadership. Don't lose me just yet. Read on.
There's a lot of confusion about what a servant-leader actually is and does in the corporate sense. We bring our experiences--good or bad--on a professional level, where we have worked, the types of bosses we've been exposed to over the years, and the culture and environment of previous companies; all these factors drive a lot of our professional behavior and thinking.
Now The Bad News...
In Star Wars fame, the wise Jedi Master Yoda tells young Luke Skywalker, "You must unlearn what you have learned."
He's got it right. To fully grasp and embody the elements of wisdom and knowledge that go against our grain, we have to unlearn everything society, culture, movies, previous bosses, and family members have taught us about the way we view leadership.
As stated earlier, this may not be "bad news" for many if you welcome change and progress. For others, you may freely cringe now.
Becoming a skilled servant-leader (or any type of leader, for that matter) is kind of like becoming a skilled doctor or lawyer. Application and practice is the key. It's not something that is grasped intellectually, like learning geometry or coding HTML. We become servant-leaders by applying our learning, knowledge and adding experience to our everyday lives.
The second priority, regardless of your age, ethnicity, social status, or how high you've climbed the corporate ladder, is you must be willing and motivated to change and grow.
And finally, to develop leadership skills, one must be motivated to seek out and receive feedback from others so that you can see yourself more clearly.
This will take some serious courage. You have to be willing to go down deep to explore old habits and behaviors below the surface that need to be identified and changed. You want to find out what old behaviors to replace with new habits, that's the beauty of change.
This means assessing yourself and your leadership by using a valid behavioral instrument that measures your leadership against the benchmarks of, in my case, servant leadership.
If you're serious about the journey ahead, you'll need tools and a clear road map you can use to implement the principles you will learn along your journey. That's why it's so crucial to have a professional coach that can come alongside you and keep you accountable in your growth process. The best leaders, no matter how successful they are or how fat the wallet they sit on is, recognize the value and impact that coaching will have on their development.
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