Friday, November 12, 2010
A communications and business strategist, Amber is a passionate communicator who uses that skill for effective change and solving problems. In this well written post she defines leadership in a way that will make many people stop and think which is very good.
Leadership is a topic that comes up a great deal: what makes a great leader, how to be a great leader, the importance of great leadership in business in order for it to really thrive. There’s a great new Twitter chat going on, started by Steve Woodruff and Lisa Petrilli around leadership. My friend Terry Starbucker writes a fantastic blog that talks about leadership and guidance a lot, and he has some wonderful perspective. Millions upon millions of books have been written and sold on the topic.
But I’ve also noticed a rather…unsettling (?) trend or discussion.
We’re demanding to be led. Or rather, we’re insisting that true change happens from the top, down. That leaders need to establish culture precedent. That they have to inspire us. That leadership is something we all must learn to do, but that those someones over there need to prove themselves worthy of being leaders in their own right. That we, the brilliant and the mighty masses, are the court of opinion that determines the value of a leader so that we might justify our discipleship.
But the true question: Are we willing to be led? I don’t mean being passively clipped to a string and being mindlessly guided down a path.
I don’t mean looking for someone to tell us what to do and blindly following where they point. I mean are we willing to be inspired? Are our minds open to changing, to learning, to questioning? Are we sometimes willing to surrender our own position at the front of the class in order to step aside and hear what someone else has to say, share, or convey?
We can’t all be lead dogs all the time. I would submit that leadership – like so many other things in business – is a mutual relationship. One cannot lead something or someone that refuses to be led. Dictatorship isn’t a super sustainable business strategy.
But even those of us that purport to have some kind of knowledge, some expertise that we can share with others, even we need to be willing to surrender to leadership sometimes that is not our own. To have the faith or the open-mindedness to recognize that we may blaze trails indeed, but that some paths being laid for us are worthy of following. That there are ideas other than our own that need no reinvention, but perhaps simply need momentum that we can help create.
Leadership can come from within. It can come from inside the organization, or at the top of it. We can find it in the corners of our social groups and our relationships. But leaders cannot exist without those that can happily and enthusiastically follow. And if we hope to be leaders ourselves in some way, we need too to demonstrate that our ability to inspire others is balanced only by our ability to be so moved.
Are you willing to be led?