Where Does Leadership Begin?

Leadership begins with trusting yourself, being true to your character and values, and doing the right thing. Whether you're running an organization, a group, your family, or yourself, the best way to start is by leading with your authentic self: your character. Taking an active role in how we direct our own lives is the first step in becoming a leader. You should be the protagonist in your own story, not someone who plays a minor role as if you were alone on the journey. Recently, I heard a TED talk about starting a movement and it got me thinking about how leadership starts from within.

The example given in the talk was of a leader who seemed crazy until he gained his first follower. He then embraced the first follower and connected with the others. This leader had a strong desire to start a movement and he didn't hesitate; he made the decision to lead before taking any action. The talk also highlighted how leaders should remain passionate about their purpose and build relationships with their followers. All leaders enjoy good challenges.

It encourages others to do great things by teaching them to accept challenges. As one of our clients, who leads a global workforce of 20,000 people, says, leadership starts with imagining the unimaginable. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous speech I Have a Dream painted a world of possibilities that people could fulfill. It wasn't expected at the time, and while we still have work to do today to even out the playing fields, King's bold leadership took important steps towards realizing that dream. Unfortunately, many workplaces still suffer from outdated command-and-control leadership styles that separate workers into two categories: those who make decisions (managers) and those who execute them (employees).

Matthew Overlund writes nonfiction and provides professional development for new (or not so new) managers in Leadership & Vision, where he helps people reach their full potential as they transition from getting things done to making things happen. I found that all of them are effective in demonstrating to people that, despite the change in leadership direction represented by my arrival, the company was about to change for the better. It is another essential function that, along with leadership and management, makes business success possible. While this doesn't mean that technical skills have no value for leadership, social and emotional intelligence is much more important. If management reports on key metrics that highlight performance, leadership defines the link between those metrics and the guiding vision. It could be said that there is a third paradigm that often overlaps with management or leadership and that is entrepreneurship.

It's that leadership capacity, that promise of what could be that I think lives inside each of us. The field of leadership is a complex and potentially infinite set of knowledge and discoveries. Before you embark on your journey to become a better leader, you need to decide what the purpose of leadership is for you. To complicate matters further, most people don't know (in practice) where management ends and where leadership begins. A modern and evolving world requires modern and evolving leadership practices based on human beings who are still at the center of every problem, solution and opportunity in your business.

While there is a time and place for both approaches, the field of leadership is significantly more varied than that and these two styles are severely limited in their own right.

Edna Freemon
Edna Freemon

Freelance coffee lover. Friendly pop culture buff. Music maven. Professional twitter maven. Unapologetic zombie junkie. Lifelong food lover.

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