What is leadership? Where to begin?


What does it take to lead well in a time of change?

The essence of great leadership is about delivering just two things: inspiration and results. The best leaders are the ones who inspire us the most. The best leaders are also the ones who deliver the best results. The truly great leaders are the ones who somehow manage to combine both inspiration and results.

If both halves of leadership are important where do we begin?

At first glance it might seem to make sense to start with results. After all, we urgently need to address the crises we face, and only after we have done so will we really have time for all this ‘emotion’ and ‘inspiration’ stuff.

But there will always be another crisis. And crisis creates stress, which means that people don’t see the situation clearly, stress each other out even more, and take poor decisions, which they then implement badly. The crisis doesn’t get resolved, and the churning deepens, or at best gets “kicked down the road” for a while.

But if we start instead with creating inspiration and “inner leadership” we will be able to see our current situations more clearly and more calmly. We will be more certain about what we want to create and more able to articulate that as an inspiring vision. Then, when we come to “outer leadership”, our implementation will be more focused, more enthusiastic: more efficient, effective, and adaptable to changing circumstances. And that will create results that last.

Whether we want to change the state the world is in, or simply lead our organisations through that world more successfully, we have to start with inner leadership. After all, how can we expect to lead others if we can’t first lead ourselves?

Or, think about it this way: when you’re on a plane and the oxygen masks drop down, every single pre-flight safety check tells you exactly the same thing, “Put on your own oxygen mask first, secure it, and breathe normally before helping others with theirs.”

This book will give you the tools to put your own oxygen mask in place. You will then be ready to help others with theirs. And once you can do that, then you can move forward together to create whatever results you want, inspired by the vision you have created, and secure in the knowledge that you can face any challenge that arises.

This is Inner Leadership.

Adapted from The Churning, Inner Leadership, published October 2016.

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