There is no “I am a leader” badge that will be generally believed. No “Head Honcho” title will cause people to say: “She’s a leader”. So what is a leader to do?
Be a leader!
A real leader needs no title. That’s because we recognize leaders through their acts of leadership: by your actions are you known. And what are a leader’s action? I propose that leadership be appropriate to its context.
Sometimes you really don’t need to do any leading; it’s all flowing nicely. You can sit back and reflect. At that moment leadership could hardly be said to exist at all.
Leadership kicks into action when it is required. Or it doesn’t. The leader-in-waiting responds to a situation that requires leadership. She sees what is happening. Your response to a situation may cause you to “become a leader”. That’s “the calling”. Others may not hear it, but you do.
You sense an insufficiency, something your team, firm, community may need. Or you see an opportunity to create something slightly glorious. You see that others aren’t going for it. It feels like it has fallen into your lap. So what are you going for? Are you going to step up and be the leader?
As paraphrased from the quote from Cliff Gladwin on the 20th December 1948 in Durban, South Africa: “Cometh the hour, cometh you?“
More than that, you sense there is a way for this leadership vision to come to pass. It really isn’t mission impossible. You gather your energy, garner resources and boom! You are leading. Look around at this world and you can find thousands of things that need to be created, fixed or changed. The world is crying out for leaders like you. How do I know this? Anyone is capable of extraordinary acts of leadership in a crisis.
The trick is not to wait for a crisis.
Leadership is inherently creative: it is about creating what does not yet exist. Leadership that seeks to keep things the same is a very limited form of leadership; and it is unsustainable. This is a world of change for every single cell, species and planet. Nothing, but nothing remains the same.
From a leader’s point of view there is an almost unlimited supply of inertia in almost every situation: so that is the first thing a leader has to change. Overcoming inertia is hard. It takes a lot of energy to get a boulder moving, but once it is moving, whoosh! You are on a roll.
Ask us to follow because you are called “Top Banana” won’t work. Tell me your vision and I may follow you gladly.
How are you preparing your leadership toolbox to be filled with what is necessary when opportunity knocks? Do you have a game plan in place, or not? If not, what steps can you take to assess your readiness and start to plan for leadership success? So “What’s your vision?”
Nigel Linacre is Speaker, Leadership Coach, Author and Director at Extraordinary Leadership in Bath, UK.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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