Ever asked yourself “what’s the essence of leadership?” Before influence leadership is a choice you make. A choice to make a meaningful difference in the world and the lives of others.
In my work I come across people in leadership positions that have never made the choice to lead. They act the part that the role expects from them, however leadership is not about position, leadership is not about authority, leadership is not about hierarchy, at it’s core leadership is a choice. It’s a choice to do the work of leadership. To lead requires we respond to reality, that we accept responsibility to be the change we want to see in the world, that we inspire hope in others, that we motivate others to participate in a meaningful journey of change. Too many choose not to respond and therefore fail to lead.
“I neither started the project nor suggested it. I simply responded to the call of the people for a spokesman” – Martin Luther King, 1958
In the same way that Martin Luther King responded to the reality he found in his life experience. We too are confronted with life and challenged with situations that require us to make a choice. Everyday we’re faced with the a leadership choice. A choice to lead, to accept responsibility, to live authentically, to be an example to others, of the change we want to see in the world.
Leadership is not about having a particular set of skills and traits, it’s about our personal decision to make a difference in the world and the lives of others. It’s about making a meaningful difference in the world. Warren Bennis says it this way..
“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
And Steve Jobs put it this way…
“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” — Steve Jobs, Stanford University commencement speech, June 2005
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” – Steve Jobs, Stanford commencement speech, June 2005
It’s the choice that leaders make about what to do with their lives, about what matters, about where to place their energy that separates leaders from the crowd. Today, leadership is scarce because few people are willing to go through the challenge, discomfort and to pay the price required to lead. Leadership is scare because it costs and not many are selfless enough to pay the price.
All effective leaders have made a deliberate choice to lead, to do the work of leadership, to respond to our reality, to accept responsibility to be the change we want to see in the world, to inspire hope in others, to motivate others to participate in a meaningful journey of change.
- How are you responding to the reality and challenges facing you?
- Have you made the choice to lead?
“We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?” – Steve Jobs