Lead yourself first
Was I born a leader or have I become one? How many theories and philosophies have we read and been taught pertaining to leadership? Some theories identify the characteristics that leaders possess (or need to possess), while others categorise leaders into types. Unfortunately, when we label someone or reduce them to a set of attributes, we miss the whole of them and dismiss the context from which they have emerged. I wonder how many of these labelling systems have made it any clearer and helped you to identify who you are, where you sit in this world, and what you need to acquire and do to be where you want to be? Are those things even important to you?
Please don't get me wrong - I am glad there are such theories and philosophies, because if other people were not working on these matters I would have nothing to compare myself and my experiences with. It is only from being in contact with the knowledge, and sometimes the differences, of others that I get a sense of who I am.
However, I will tell you that I am at a point in my life right now where all this no longer matters to me! Because my goal is to be all that I can be, and in order to do this I sometimes need to acquire new knowledge, integrate and apply new skills, take responsibility for my contribution to relationships and outcomes, and grow and evolve. Why do I do this... for one reason only: because I care. I care about you, I care about me, and I care about this world. But what does this mean? Am I a leader? Yes! I am a leader... a leader of myself.
So when I share with you my experience and knowledge of leadership, the first thing I want to say to you is to learn about who you are. Where do you want to go and how will you lead yourself? Entrepreneurship requires you to step up and take the lead because you have something unique to offer this world. How well your service or product is accepted, and the willingness of others to follow your lead, will depend upon your true worth. It is much easier and emotionally safer to accept someone who is trustworthy and has integrity, versus someone whose primary motivation is money with no regard for values. In fact, our current economic climate reflects the last motivation and we know where this has got us.
Anyone who teaches or guides companies on branding will tell you the iconic brands have integrity. This means the quality of product and service is consistent, it's reliable, the image and it's communication is clear and honest. The brand is trusted. It meets the user's needs. Leaders who have integrity can be trusted and your product/service is a reflection of who you are as a person, especially if you brand your product/service with your own name. Does having integrity mean you won't make mistakes? I am sharing my experiences with you because I have lost count of how many times I have slipped up in the past. But I can reframe these as simply being "learning experiences" because it's how you face, feel, and attend to the "mistakes" that makes the real difference. Leaders with integrity own their "mistakes" in the field, they take responsibility for them, and make the changes necessary so they do not happen again. They never compromise their personal values for the sake of a deal, and if they have contributed to the issue at hand they will tend to it directly, and so the honesty continues.
"Authenticity is the state of being committed to the truth...' (Yasuhiko Kimura). But who's truth? My own personal truth- what is happening for me moment to moment. The key to authenticity is developing personal awareness and then awareness of others. This can be an involved complex path to take and requires new learning. Mainstream business and leadership courses do not always teach the difference between values and beliefs, feelings and emotions, or thoughts and intuition. Without looking into the process of learned conditioning and how we create meaning from our experiences, the leader in you can not start on the path of self discovery and make the changes necessary within yourself, and for yourself, to change your life conditions. There are books and courses available, and companies who specialise in personal development with specific relation to leadership. But don't just study the theoretical - I am suggesting you find a course that has an experiential component. 'Experiential' means learning from experience - so live the course content!
P.D. Ouspensky's simple statement, "that the most difficult thing in life is to know what one knows and to know what one doesn't know and to know the difference between the two" captures the complexity of the process of personal awareness and self optimization. Interestingly, as I am writing this I am thinking that there is so much more I can share with you... but for now let's stick with focusing on 'learn about who you are' and 'how to lead yourself'.
Yes, I am a leader - just as you are a leader. A leader of whom? A leader of ourselves!