Lead from Within

A leader: Anyone who holds herself or himself accountable
for finding potential in people and processes.

Brene Brown’s definition of leadership conveys the essence of leading from within. Authentic leadership is both influence and action and is expressed from the inside out.

Leadership is not a title or a position. It is not based on a personality style or set of natural traits. Sometimes it whispers, sometimes it’s a trumpet blast. Regardless of whether you have a nameplate on your desk designating you’re the CEO, you are certainly the CEO of your own life.

Excellence in leadership starts with leading yourself well. Integrity, work ethic, compassion – these are all characteristics that are cultivated internally. The world of physical fitness places emphasis on strengthening your core. We would each be wise to spend even more time strengthening the core of our being out of which flow our thoughts, beliefs, and emotions- the very heart of who we are. Your EQ (Emotional Quotient) is as important as your IQ (Intelligence Quotient). I’m among those would argue that it’s even more important.

I find it interesting that decades ago, visionary leader Peter Drucker espoused that the challenge of the information age would not be technology, but rather the human issues arising from the incredible capabilities of a technical world.
Computers are infinitely capable of storing and transmitting data, but they will never be able to have the insights and perceptions of a human being. Computers will never be able to have vision, discernment, compassion and communication skills. You can best prepare for the future by strengthening your leadership abilities today.

John Spence, recognized as one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in America, shared a blog post with his insights on what the future holds…

“The new innovations coming in just the next few years in computer learning, the Internet of Things, robotics, augmented reality, virtual reality, and human longevity for starters, will touch every sector of business in the world.”  John states, “For some businesses it will mean minor adjustments, others will have to be completely re-imagined and many others…will no longer exist.”

“The future of business is Smart Machines (advanced machines, driven by self-learning computers, connected to the Internet of things through the cloud, which connects every computer on earth to every other computer on earth). So at least for the next 10 years or so, until machines take over, success in business will be determined by a company’s ability to attract, keep and grow top knowledge workers. This means that leadership, communications, culture and innovation are going to be even more critical in building the foundation of sustainable business success.” 

I find it interesting that the upcoming 2015 Drucker forum in Vienna is titled “Managing Oneself in the Digital Age”.

In developing the qualities of a good leader, you are investing in your value in the marketplace. Increasing your core leadership strength is an inside job. Only when you do the work on the inside will you see the external improvements in your life, your relationships and your position.

Lead from Within

Leadership is an asset that will yield rich dividends. Here are four practical  ways to invest in your own leadership development:

1. Recognize that someone is in your shadow. You have influence and may not even be aware of who is watching, learning and modeling what you do. A recent study found that the employee benefit most requested by Millennials is to have a mentor.  Whether you call yourself a mentor or not, there are people you are influencing.  Being cognizant of this fact adds a level of accountability to our lives.“There are few things more powerful than modeling,” says Allan Golston, who oversees the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s efforts to help U.S. students graduate from high school prepared to do college-level work.

2. Be courageous. There are multitudes of ways courage is expressed. It might be speaking up when it would be easier to remain silent. It could be taking the risk to write, paint, speak, teach, or whatever it is you feel called to do. Being bold is as much about confronting fear as feeling confident. Sometimes the confidence is not that you feel sure of what you are doing as much as you are certain you must do something.

3. Articulate your vision. Your vision is the artistic design for your future. You can’t build something you can’t imagine. Another reason it’s critical to have clarity on where you are going is so that you can surround yourself with people who are headed in the same direction as you.

4. Take a leadership assessment. This one I recommend doesn’t cost money, but is one of the most valuable, yet overlooked tools around.  Ask questions and listen. This week, ask two people on your team, “How am I doing?”. “What can I do better?” If you don’t get some helpful insights, you should question whether you’ve made others feel safe enough to be real with you. So you’re going to learn something from this exercise, regardless of the response you get. I dare you to do this.

There’s always a next level in leadership. You never arrive. As soon as you think you have all the answers, the questions change. The agility to move with the current of change and the humility to know there’s always room for improvement will serve you well.

Note: A fifth thing you can do is join the “Lead from Within” team this summer. Details Here


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