The Leadership Series Part 1: What is Leadership, and Why is it so Important?

Leadership As A Part of Everyday Life

Photo by img.ly on Unsplash

I am always thinking about, learning about, and practicing leadership. Really. Always. It is such an important concept and practice. Yes, professionally, and even more importantly, for me, in every aspect of my life.

Why?

Well, that’s what we’ll look at in this new series. There are so many questions to look at and discuss when it comes to leadership. Seriously. So many. Here are just a couple.

  • Why is leadership such an important concept?
  • Why is it so important to practice?
  • Why is it important to understand?
  • What are the types of leadership?
  • Why are there so many types?
  • What’s the right type for me?
  • How do I become a leader?

And? Oh, there are so many more.

Alright, in this first article, we are going to unpack leadership as a concept and practice. Ready? Great. Let’s get started by defining leadership. Yep. here we go.

leadership

Pronunciation /ˈlēdərˌSHip/ /ˈlidərˌʃɪp/ 

See synonyms for leadership

Translate leadership into Spanish

NOUN

The action of leading a group of people or an organization.

The state or position of being a leader.

The leaders of an organization, country, etc.

Lexico

Okay. Here we see that leadership is identified with leading a group of people or organization or being in a leadership position.

Yet, what does that really mean?

Before we get to that question, let’s try one more definition. The definitions are all a little different. Here we go.

leadership

noun US  /ˈliː.dɚ.ʃɪp/ UK  /ˈliː.də.ʃɪp/

the set of characteristics that make a good leader

the position or fact of being the leader

Cambridge Dictionary

Alright, we now have an additional concept in this new definition. Leadership in this definition is also associated with a particular set of characteristics. Yet, which ones? Hm. Confusing.

And, now?

Well, let’s assuage some of our confusion by unpacking these definitions, shall we? Good. Here we go.

Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash

Leadership as Leading People

Right, so leading people. Yes, yes, that is a part of leadership. Or, as I usually like to write, one piece of a whole. The whole you ask? Good question.

The whole of leadership as a principle and practice is a system. And, like all systems, it starts with each of us. The way we think and feel about leadership; our hopes, dreams, goals, and objectives. Yep, all of them.

In fact, all leadership starts with leading oneself. What does that mean?

It means that the way we treat ourselves, the principles and values we believe in, and the way we practice those principles and values are exactly how we lead.

Some people think that you can lead your life at home one way, and then lead your life at work in another way. Not so. Believe me, I’ve tried it. It just doesn’t work.

How you lead at home is the same as the way you lead at work. They are one.

Photo by Yoann Boyer on Unsplash

Some of you right now might be thinking, as I once did, that’s not true; I have a set of values at home and a different set of values at work.

However, I am inviting you to consider that, in fact, believing that we hold different values at home than we hold at work is mere confusion. And?

That confusion will seep out into all that we do.

We can call that discord. And, that discord will confuse you, yes, and everyone else around you. Really. And, with confusion comes tension, disagreement, and disengagement.

The soultion?

Well, getting clear on your principles and values is a start. As is understanding why you treat yourself as you do; meaning, creating an awareness of yourself for yourself. Important. Then?

Let go of the principles and values that no longer serve you, and create new ones. We are creative beings first, and leaders second. All of us. Create symmetry between the self you are at home and the self you are at work.

You are one person after all. Create the leader you know yourself to be. One step at a time. Then?

Creating leadership symmetry

  1. What are your hopes, dreams, and aspirations?
  2. What do you value and why?
  3. Why are you the person you are today?
  4. Why do you do what you do?

And, then?

Create symmetry between your personal life and your professional life. As was aforementioned, they are one and the same anyway. Time to connect the two. There is tremendous power in this conceptual and practical example. And, then?

Well, with symmetry and practice, you will lead people. And, you will lead them from a space that is centered and clear on what you intend to create.

Photo by Unseen Histories on Unsplash

Leadership as a Position

Leadership is not a position. Director, supervisor, and manager are a position, or even better yet, are a title.

Leadership is a philosophy and a practical way you live your life. Every aspect of your life in fact. If you think about leadership as a position, then?

You will create separateness between leadership and other aspects of your life. And, as we’ve just discussed, that leads to confusion and disengagement. You from yourself, and your team from you.

It is inevitable. People know when we are genuine and authentic. They can feel it, they can see it, and they can hear it. Simple.

One of the reasons people struggle in leadership is they are not clear on who they are as a human being. Listen, it’s not a demerit. I once had this same issue, and?

It’s hard. Very hard.

When you are not clear on who you are, how can you be clear on who your team is? You cannot. It’s just not possible. What is possible?

Get clear on you

  • Why are you a leader?
  • What do you value in leadership?
  • What types of leadership do you associate yourself with?
  • What kinds of impact do you want to make in this world?
  • What change do you want to create?

I could go on. Well, and we will, in future posts. For now, know that there are two things at this stage that are critical.

  1. Understanding yourself.
  2. Understanding your leadership style.

And, we will cover both of these topics in the next two articles. Now, let’s take a look at leadership as characteristics.

Photo by Daoudi Aissa on Unsplash

Leadership as Characteristics

There are many places to look for and find lists, articles, even whole books on leadership characteristics. And?

Well, it is important to understand these characteristics, yet it is just as important to understand that these characteristics are a product of what leaders believe and think, and how they act.

Meaning, that understanding characteristics are only as good as actually developing a relationship with yourself, and understanding how that relationship will translate into your personal leadership style.

Here are a few leadership characteristics I think are pretty important.

  • Authenticity
  • Inspiration
  • Vulnerability
  • Influence
  • Clarity
  • Vision
  • Grit
  • Determination
  • Perseverance
  • Compassion
  • Empathy
  • Integrity
  • Self-awareness
  • Accountability
  • Collaboration
  • Passion

Know there are many more. These are the ones I’m most present to now, and the ones that I’m always present to actually.

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

Leadership as Life

I prefer to think about and practice leadership as another part of my life. A very important part of my life. Really.

If we think about leadership in regard to taking care of and leading ourselves through life, and then expand that to include the other people in our lives, it’s very important.

Let’s close this first installment with a few quotes, shall we? Good. Here we go.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

Benchmark

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Benchmark

“As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence.” – Lao Tzu

Benchmark

There we go.

Inspiration is an important part of leadership. And? Well, the leader must first find their inspiration, as we’ve discussed, and, then? It will go out to everyone else. Fun.

Ah, yes, collaboration is such an important leadership characteristic. Difficult, and yet so much fun and so worth the process.

I am fond of saying to the team I work on something like, you know we chose to institute the collaborative model we use today. It’s not the easiest way to do things, yet we believe it is the best way.

Lao Tzu makes a lovely point here about influence. When a team is rallied around a common purpose or goal, it is infectious, and it is as if the leader simply disappears. In fact, each person on the team, in their own way, becomes a leader. Beautiful.

Alright, we’ve made it to the conclusion of the first entry into this new series on leadership. And, I am excited about continuing it with you.

In the next installment, we will take a look at leadership from the perspective of the self. It is, as we’ve discussed, where everything starts.

And, it is exactly where we will start again next time.

#clarity, #collaboration, #helenkeller, #influence, #inspiration, #johnadams, #laotzu, #leadership, #leadershipasasystem, #leadershipaslife, #leadershipconcepts, #leadershipdefined, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipmindset, #leadershipprinciples, #leadershipquestions, #leadershipsymmetry, #leadershipvalues, #leading-people, #leadingorganizations, #selfdevelopment, #strategy, #vision

A Blogger’s Diary 11/1/20: On the Paradox of Poetry, Writing, and Life

Photo by David Pennington on Unsplash

Well, we are two days away from the election, COVID-19 cases are up in Oregon, we are continuing to deliver classes and training remotely, and I’ve been writing more poetry lately. Hm. Interesting.

Right, so here’s what I was up to this week, in the event you missed it.

There we go. See. More poetry.

Photo by Trust “Tru” Katsande on Unsplash

Poetry

It is interesting to consider. I do like writing poetry, and am having a lot of fun doing so. Funnily enough, as I’ve written before, I haven’t read much poetry, though when I find poetry I like, I go back to it again and again.

And, I’ve been reading a lot more poetry lately from the blogs of some of the most outstanding poets and writers. Lovely.

I also love the challenge of writing poetry. It is an interesting paradox. In some ways it is easier than the other topics I choose to write about, and yet, in many ways much more difficult. Hm.

I enjoy sitting with a peice, pondering it, reflecting upon it, until the right words show up. Fun. I also like being out on a walk or hike, and find that inspiration stirring me to stop on the path, and make notes in my phone.

That is exactly how the road poem showed up today.

Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash

Writing

I have some ideas for next week, yet, if you read my last installment, A Blogger’s Diary 10/24/20: On Writing, Reading, and 200+ Followers, you will note that my writing plan changed as this week progressed.

Is it like that for you? It is often that way for me.

Anyway, at this time, I have planned another installment on sensitivity, a piece on sociology, and, hm, ah yes, a post on wonder. That’s what I have for now anyway. The poetry, you ask? Good question.

You know that works a little differently than the other things I choose to write about. Well, sort of.

With poetry, I usually see something that inspires me, and then from that derive a concept and then write. So, in a way the process is similar to my other writing, and yet feels a little different.

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

Life

Lastly, I wanted to acknowledge just how hard this year has been for everyone. Really. It has been.

Yet, I also want to acknowledge the resiliency of the human spirit. Very resilient. Much more resilient than people imagine. And, it is beautiful to be a part of and to witness.

I have found and read so many inspirational stories this year. Please know that you are all inspirational to me. All of you.

Though life has been extraordinarily hard this year, and, well, looks like it will continue to be, at least from a pandemic perspective, for some time; know that you are bringing people hope and joy each and every day by writing as you do. Just as you are and as you do. Wonderful.

I’ve laughed and teared more at my computer screen these past few months than at any other time in my life. And, I’m not young. Ha!

Right. Well, it is about time to wrap up this installment. Yet, before I do, let me leave you with two quotes I adore from two very inspirational people. Here you go.

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”
― Helen Keller

Driven

“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”
― Maya Angelou

Driven

Lovely.

Have a wonderful week everyone.

#poetry, #blogger, #bloggersdiary, #blogging, #covid-19, #diary, #elections, #helenkeller, #life, #quotes, #resilience, #writing