Looking Back to Look Ahead
I am often asked to predict the future of leadership. That’s a dangerous business. I am reluctant to join the economists, futurists and others who live by the crystal ball…and soon learn to eat ground glass. However, as we enter the new millennium, we can look back through history and discover the timeless leadership principles that have guided successful societies, organizations and individuals through uncertain and rapidly changing times. Inner and outer leadership (leading ourselves vs. leading others) has never been more critical.
It would be easy if we could all become leaders by following a simple set of steps. But the journey of personal growth requires finding our own way. There are, however, a series of interconnected areas of growth and development based on timeless principles. The distance each of us needs to grow along these leadership dimensions will differ, but defining and continually growing along these paths is the way of the leader—and the way to the future of our dreams.
• Focus and Context—The core of my being: This is central to our growth along all the other dimensions. Our focus and context is shaped by three vital questions: Where am I going (vision)?; What do I believe in (principles and values)?; and Why do I exist (purpose or mission)?
• Responsibility for Choices—If it’s to be, it’s up to me: Leadership means accepting responsibility for our choices in life. 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; there’s nothing I can do.
• Authenticity—Getting real: Leadership isn’t just what we do, it’s something that we are, which then drives what we do. Genuine leadership comes from within. 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.