Leadership is a means of self expression. Leaders find ways to express who they are, what they believe, which inspires them take action towards their vision. Warren Bennis understood leadership as self expression and made the following observation…
“No leader sets out to be a leader. People set out to live their lives, expressing themselves fully. When that expression is of value, they become leaders. So the point is not to become a leader. The point is to become yourself, to use yourself completely – all your skills, gifts and energies – in order to make your vision manifest. You must withhold nothing. You, must, in sum, become the person you started out to be, and to enjoy the process of becoming.” – Warren Bennis, On Becoming a Leader
To be a credible and authentic leader, you must learn to express yourself in your own unique way. This means you cannot lead by copying others. You cannot lead by copying the actions, beliefs, values and vision of others. You can only lead from your own vision, your own values, your own beliefs and from your own actions. People will not follow effective leadership techniques, tools, tricks and tactics. People follow leaders who expresses themselves authentically, people follow leaders who know who they are, people follow leaders who know what they stand for, and people follow leaders who walk their own path .
Consider this, the majority of those we would classify as great leaders, never set out to become great leaders.
“If you study the people who participate in dynamic leadership relationships, you will find that the majority of them never set out to be great leaders. Rather, they set out to pursue a purpose, a cause, or a calling that was worthy of giving it everything they had – in some cases, even their lives! Their power is the power of purpose. Whether it’s chasing an exciting new opportunity or fighting and injustice, their belief in the cause gives them the strength to persevere when they come up against seemingly insurmountable odds. In their efforts to build relationships and rally people around the cause, they are engaging in the act of leadership.” – Kevin Freibergand and Jackie Freiberg, Nuts!
Leadership is not something that you can learn by reading books and articles on leadership. Leadership is a personal expression that comes about when you passionately pursue your vision and purpose, when you fight for a cause and when you pursue a calling.
- Have you clearly articulated your vision and purpose?
- What is the cause that demands your best?
- Is the cause something that is worth giving your life for?
- Is the cause big enough, that it demands great leadership from you?