Fill in the blank: "The world needs more of __________."
What do you think it needs? In my opinion, it's positive, successful leadership. And I'm not talking about the kind of leadership that requires the title or the salary.
Anyone has the potential to be a leader. Dictators can be leaders (though arguably, very negative and dangerous). Teachers can be leaders. Team captains and team members, parents, the oldest sibling, the youngest sibling, the entry-level hire, and so many other roles all have the potential to be leaders. So how do we cultivate more of the leadership this world needs? How do we go from good to great, a subject author Jim Collins has written much about? How do we face challenges and course-correct our vision like Howard Schultz did for Starbucks and as detailed in his book, Onward?
The secret lies within our current state; too many of us think about leadership in a certain way. This perception affects the way we act, diminishing our potential and that of those around us.
Who is a leader?
Let's start by defining who a positive, successful leader is, what that looks like, and what they do.
- A leader knows he/she has influence and must steward it for good.
- A leader strikes an appropriate balance between encouraging and challenging others.
- A leader admits his/her own faults and invites constructive feedback.
- A leader strives for better, always - this includes the capacity to ask for help.
- A leader recognizes people's strengths and utilizes them effectively.
- A leader does not dismiss his/her responsibilities to his/herself just like a leader does not renege on the duties of his/her role on a team/in a department/head of a household or company.
- A leader can be fearless or highly cautious and it's he or she who applies this effectively, gets more done, in the way he/she intended or better, exceeds expectations.
By now you might be thinking of some individuals who fit these descriptions - past presidents, coaches, teachers, parents, managers, some of your peers, you. Whomever comes to mind, challenge your thinking. Yes, they fit the bill according to how we've defined 'positive, successful leadership' but how do they steward influence, strike balance, admit fault, and so on, consistently?
How do leaders balance it all?
We might think that leaders shoulder a great deal of duty and seem to have an uncanny ability to take on more. In some ways it's true.
Take for instance: CEO's who inherit projects from predecessors or spearhead new ones; managers who willingly pick up slack between the time an employee transitions out and a new one learns the ropes; parents who are already blessed with two children then learn they are pregnant with twins; students in high school who take AP courses while already being committed to clarinet lessons, a school club, and the basketball team. Somehow, they all find a way to make it work.
How do they do it? It's not a matter of what else they add to their life. It's about the things you cannot see... their success comes from what they choose to cut out.
Wait... these leaders are giving up?!
In a Medium article written by the creator of the "Ultimate Productivity Cheat Sheet," Zdravko Cvijetic, professes there are 13 things we must give up to be successful:
- Give up on the unhealthy lifestyle
- Give up on the short-term mindset
- Give up on playing small
- Give up your excuses
- Give up the fixed mindset
- Give up believing in the "magic bullet"
- Give up your perfectionism
- Give up multi-tasking
- Give up your need to control everything
- Give up on saying yes to things that don't support your goals
- Give up the toxic people
- Give up your need to be liked
- Give up your dependency on social media and TV
Think back to the leader you imagined after reading the descriptions of a positive, successful leader. How many of these 13 things show up? What is intentionally absent from that leader's life? What have you chosen to eliminate from your life?
We're in this together.
The world needs more and we all have the potential to give it, only IF we are highly selective and incredibly intentional about how we spend our time, manage our energy, and tend to our minds.
If you want to see positive change, not just local but global, think twice about what you add to your plate. Think next - what can I stop doing? What can I edit? Imagine when enough of us do this... what's the end game?
It's a better you.
We'll be a better us.
Together, we WILL be a better all.