The focus of management looks outwards: to actions and getting things done. Managers focus on implementing the agreed plan: on what their people are doing today and the outcomes and problems that might arise tomorrow.
Leadership is different. Leadership is about making choices. And that has to start by looking within ourselves. The first step of leadership is at once both deceptively simple and incredibly important. It lays the foundation for everything else that follows.
The first step of leadership is the ability to bring yourself back to a state of calm inner balance and connect strongly with who you are and what matters most to you. Only then can you take in information about the outside world and decide how you are going to respond.
Like the roots of a tree, your ability to centre and ground ourselves will keep you upright during a storm. And when times are calm, the depth of your roots will determine how far you are able to spread out the branches of your leadership into larger challenges and roles, and how long you can sustain yourself in a drought.
The more strongly you build your inner foundation of self-knowledge, the more confident and self-assured you will be in a wider range of situations. The better you will then be able to lead yourself and others.
For these reasons it is worth spending the time to send your roots deep and wide.
How quickly are you able to return to a state of calm inner balance in a crisis and connect strongly with what matters most to you? How easy do you find it to choose between options? Would you like to strengthen your foundation?
Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building inspiration in times of change.
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