World history is full of powerful leaders; men and women who changed the direction of societies, business and culture. Nothing is more valuable to our society’s health. Yet today, leadership often feels like a missing link in business, politics, religion, education and even the family.
Sure, leadership exists. But it is seldom the kind of long-term guidance that inspires us to move powerfully in a direction that we would not necessarily move on our own initiative. And often, it lacks energy and deliberate, purposeful action.
A Vision That Contributes
More than anything, a leader has a crystal-clear Vision that is compelling enough, and contributes enough to inspire us to pursue it. Not only do leaders have a clear Vision, they are a clear Vision to those they endeavor to lead. And they communicate in such a way that the Vision stays on the forefront of our hearts and minds.
A Vision is a living-color picture of a goal — one you can see, hear, smell, taste, and feel — held as a powerful, inevitable expectation. Visions are goals for which we are on a collision course to blow right through, and our motivation is sourced in them.
A leader listens in such a way that we feel heard; not necessarily agreed with, but at least heard and honored. They also ask us to do things that, if left to our own thinking, we would consider unreasonable, impossible or outrageous. Not things that violate our values — on the contrary, things that actually honor our values.
As a result of whom they are, and how they speak and act, leaders cause us to feel stronger, happier, more "on fire" about our future. And this motivation prompts us to be powerful in our pursuits.
Character That Withstands Scrutiny
Leaders act with the ethics, morals, character and principles that are expected by their followers. A leader’s actions are consistent with his or her promises. We can count on a leader to have the integrity to be who they say they are, and to share themselves wholly and authentically — their fears, their weaknesses, their strengths and their power.
A leader stays on the path of personal and character development, knowing that none of us ever arrive. They understand that as soon as we act as if we have no room to grow, we lose our power to lead.
Just Do It … Anyway
All great endeavors are fraught with risk and adversity. Leaders are powerfully motivated by their Visions to stay on course to their goals, regardless of the obstacles. They are eternally enthusiastic. They have the courage to face their fears and go where others are afraid to go.
Leaders generate the physical wellness and energy to do the work. They possess the persistence to immediately regroup and relaunch when needed. They unleash their innate creativity to solve problems and adopt positive interpretations of all circumstances. Their journey is not dependent on what anyone thinks or whether anyone follows. They just do it … anyway!
I believe that leadership is the greatest profession of the 21st century. Nowhere will it be more richly rewarded than in the people-enrichment business. That’s our business, and I challenge you to step out and take it on. You’ll love the adventure.
For more of my thoughts on the qualities and possibilities of a successful leader, order my Advanced Leadership audio cd.