Most people hear the term LEADERSHIP and envision great leaders like American football coaching legend Vince Lombardi or Winston Churchill or Martin Luther King, etc. The only challenge with that viewpoint it is outwardly directed; as in — great leaders are OUT —>THERE ->
What did you envision when I started with the word, LEADERSHIP?
Did you envision yourself? Perhaps you envisioned what you wish your boss was like?
What I’ve learned over the last 30 years is that leadership is simple but not necessarily easy and that it is built upon daily actions, decisions, and habits. Leadership demands integrity and integrity is built one brick at a time, day in — day out.
Yes! Leadership is an everyday activity based upon personal integrity. Leadership starts with TRUST (see video above), and is a reflection of our personal responsibility. Every day, each of us have the opportunity to be in harmony with our values (integrated) and therefore we can strengthen our leadership or, we may unconsciously and in some cases, even consciously, choose to be out of integrity / disharmony with our values.
But make no mistake, we (not others) are casting the vote daily whether we are leaders. Each decision, day after day, all day long, is a vote either FOR our personal accountability, our ability to lead, or against it.
What about Vision?
Good question. In the video above you’ll note no mention of vision and I think that is interesting because without a passionate vision that is articulated and shared— you can not have a GREAT leader. However, I think for purposes of discussion, this is a great video because here Colin Powell suggests that if you’re a good enough leader people will follow you even if just out of curiosity.
Isn’t that funny? So as important as VISION is – INTEGRITY and TRUST come first and vision is actually secondary. In fact, to test that, simply ask yourself if Lincoln’s vision to free the slaves would have worked without having first built up his personal integrity.
A few take-away questions to ask yourself:
1) Are you a leader?
2) How did you cast your vote yesterday?
3) Can people trust your word?
4) Would people follow you if only out of curiosity?
5) In what capacity have you led recently?
6) Have you challenged yourself to lead in any capacity, be it a church group, volunteer organization, school fundraiser or even coaching a kid’s team.
While leadership is built upon trust and integrity it is also a skill and an art that requires refinement; great interpersonal skills, the ability to challenge others and be compassionate. A great leader like Colin Powell didn’t just wake up one day and say, “Time to be a great leader” — you can be assured he’s worked on this craft day in and day out, beginning of course, with his own personal integrity.
I’ll leave you with this gem from Lao Tzu to meditate upon:
“To lead the people, walk behind them.”