Growing the Leader in Us
Leadership is a verb, not a noun. Leadership is action, not a position. Leadership is defined by what we do, not the role we assume. Some people in leadership roles are excellent leaders. But too many are bosses, "snoopervisors," technocrats, bureaucrats, managers, commanders and chiefs.
To lead is to show the way by going in advance. To lead is to guide or direct a course of action. To lead is to influence the behavior or opinion of others. Leadership development is personal development. Leadership ultimately shows itself in what we do "out there," but it starts "in here."
The journey of personal growth means finding our own way. There are, however, critical areas of personal development based on timeless principles. The distance we need to grow along each leadership dimension will differ for each of us, but defining and continually growing along each of these paths is the way of the leader.
Strong leaders are well-rounded and constantly expanding their personal leadership across these key areas:
• Choose Not to Lose. When we are faced with obstacles and failure, those who can overcome adversity and learn from their experiences, turning them into opportunities, are the ones who will be truly successful.
• Focus and Context. Our focus and context are shaped by three vital questions: Where am I going? (my vision); What do I believe in? (my principles and values); and Why do I exist? (my purpose or mission).
• Responsibility For Choices. Leaders realize that life accumulates, that choice more than chance determines their circumstances. They refuse to succumb to the "Victimitus Virus" ("it's all their fault" and "there's nothing I can do").
• Authenticity. Leadership isn't just what we do, it's something that we are, which then drives what we do. It's authentic, and based on honesty, integrity and trust. We must ring true to ourselves by exploring our inner space, gathering feedback on our personal behavior and ensuring consistency with our stated values and principles.