I recently completed an intensive 10-month leadership development program. Once a quarter, 24 people from all over the world would come together for a week of experiential learning at a retreat center in Asheville, NC. During this journey, there were plenty of breakdowns, breakthroughs and even a broken finger.
When people hear the word leadership development, they often think of managers and executives receiving training. Certainly this can be the case and still I believe there is another way to think about this. I chose this training program over many others because I believe everyone is a leader and with this perspective we can change the world for the better. Imagine everyone in your organization recognizing their capacity to lead and realizing that leadership is not based on positional authority. What would be possible?
- Developing as a leader begins with seeing yourself as a leader. This shift in mindset changes everything. You are no longer waiting for someone else to chart the path for you or tell you what needs to be done. You are taking responsibility for your choices and their impact.
- Development is a sign of success not deficiency. It means you are consciously creating, evolving and stretching beyond your current self-imposed barriers to create positive change. You choose to see challenges as opportunities for growth and learning. This process takes attention, patience and humility. Traits found in our greatest, most successful and influential leaders.
- Leadership is a journey. We never arrive. There is always more to learn and experience. Everyone we encounter has something to teach us whether we like the lesson or not. As you can imagine, not everyone in our group hit it off. This challenged each of us to explore our mental models, biases and exposed parts of ourselves that were underdeveloped.
- Leaders inspire others. They do this by understanding what brings them alive and then breathing this passion into their words and actions. They move those around them to action from a deeper place of meaning and shared purpose.
- Leaders are vulnerable. They are willing to make mistakes, be wrong and then have the courage to begin again. They are willing to ask for help and then are equally willing to receive it. For example, letting people know you broke your finger and that you need to go to the ER instead of trying to tough it out on your own when you are compromised.
- Leaders care. They care about their impact on those around them. They care enough to listen to others and receive constructive feedback in service of their own growth as well as those they serve. Some of my biggest insights came when we spent an entire evening sharing feedback with one another about what was getting in the way of our leadership and what was really working. I reread this list often.
As we continue to evolve beyond organizational systems based on command and control, we need a coalition of empowered and engaged individuals who are not waiting for a title to lead and bring about change. The days of the lone hero leading the way and pretending to have all the answers are over. We are facing complex local and global challenges that require all of us to collaborate, take inspired action and lead. Ho!
About the author
Michelle is a Certified Coach and Leadership Development Consultant, whose mission is helping individuals and organizations leave a meaningful imprint on our world. She is committed to human beings realizing their potential with a focus on conscious leadership, authentic communication, and culture transformation. Read more>