Management looks outwards, leadership starts from within

Tree RootsThe focus of management looks outwards, at implementing the agreed plan. Managers focus on the results of what their people did yesterday, the actions they are taking today, and the outcomes and problems that might arise tomorrow.

Leadership is different. Leadership is about choosing which plan to implement, and inspiring others to join in. That has to begin by looking inwards.

So the first step of leadership is both deceptively simple and incredibly important: it lays the foundation for everything else that follows.

The first step of leadership is our ability to bring ourselves back to a state of calm inner balance, then connect strongly with who we are and what matters most to us, and only then can we take in information about the world, choose how we are going to respond, and inspire others to go with us.

Generating this inner clarity involves three stages: centring, grounding, and deepening our connection with ourselves.

The deeper we build that connection, like the roots of a tree, the better we will be able to survive droughts and remain upright when storms are raging. And when times are calm, the depth of our inner ‘roots’ will determine how far we are able to spread the branches of our leadership out into wider challenges and roles.

The more strongly you learn to centre, ground, and deepen your inner foundation of self-knowledge, the more confident and self-assured you will be in a wider range of situations, the more easily you will make the choices that are right for you, and the better you will lead yourself and others through this time of change.

For these reasons it is worth spending the time to learn to centre, ground, and send your roots out deep and wide.

In a crisis, how quickly do you return to a state of calm inner balance and connect strongly with what matters most to you? How easily do you choose the way forward that is right for you? Are you playing a role in the world that is as large as you would like it to be? Would you benefit from deepening your roots and strengthening your foundation of self-knowledge?

Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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