Her name, I think, was Elsa. I spent only an hour with her, but she had a really significant impact on me and how I think about leadership. She was an Austrian woman in her 80s and a concentration camp survivor. She didn’t tell me she was a survivor, but when I sat down next to her I saw her concentration camp number tattooed on her wrist.
There are three things that I hold to be absolutely true about leadership:
- Leaders can and should have an impact on what matters.
- Leaders can and should leave a legacy behind them that makes their world a better place.
- Leaders can and should be able to do this with enjoyment, and without sacrificing their own well being or short-changing the people they love.
Leadership means being the best person you can be in the service of the goals and aspirations of your family, business, organisation or community.
This definition implies two key questions for successful leadership:
- How do you make the most of your talents and abilities for the good of others?
- How you help ‘make things happen’ in the direction of the ideal or better future?
Finding the answer to these two questions, however, can be surprising difficult because leaders are surrounded by so much noise about the ‘right way’ to lead. There are an endless array of theories, competency frameworks, ‘how to’ guides and ‘gurus’ telling them that if they just follow 'The 999 Irrevocable Laws of Leadership' (or something of that ilk) then everything will be okay.
Unfortunately, this makes it incredibly difficult for leaders to hear their own voice, to trust their own intuition, and to bring their own unique qualities and strengths to the table.
Yet this is what we most need in our world.
The reality is, that if we are serious about creating a better future for our families, communities, businesses and organisations, then leadership is an important part of the solution. This is not because leaders are themselves the solution, but because good leaders are catalysts for making good things happen, for encouraging others to ‘step up and step out’ and for making the most of the potential that is present.
Yet leaders are generally ill-prepared and poorly supported for this journey. This is because the manner in which leaders are socialised and developed into the profession leaves them inadequately prepared for the central task and challenges of leadership.
In fact, the majority of leaders have been trained in tools and approaches that almost guarantee underachievement. And these ways of thinking are often so ingrained that leaders themselves are completely unaware of the ways that their success is being constrained.
Unfortunately, when a leader fails to succeed they often think that there must be something wrong with them when, more often than not, it is not their fault.
So what will Rethinking Leadership do for you? First, and foremost, this book will help you to:
1. ‘Pull back the curtains’ on the mystique surrounding leadership to see leadership as it really is and what this means for your success,
2. Develop a deeper appreciation of your own capacities and talents and how best to use them, and to
3. See an even bigger possibility for you, your leadership and your life.
The truth is that there is an upside to leadership that is rarely spoken about - becoming a leader is one of the richest, most exciting opportunities that life can provide.
Yes there are challenges along the way, but every leader can find a way of approaching leadership that allows them to learn quickly, that allows them to succeed in a manner that’s in line with their values and goals, that allows them to have a lasting impact, and that works for them inside and outside of work.
And when you do, leadership becomes a richly creative, meaningful and rewarding adventure.
So lets get started.