Management looks outwards, leadership starts from within

Tree RootsThe focus of management is on looking outwards: on actions and on getting things done. Managers focus on implementing the agreed plan: on what their people are doing today and the problems and outcomes 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 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.

The more strongly you build this 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.

Like the roots of a tree, our ability to centre and ground ourselves will keep us upright during a storm. And when times are calm, the depth of our roots will determine how far we are able to spread the branches of our leadership out into larger challenges and roles, and how long we can sustain ourselves during a drought.

For these reasons it is worth spending the time to send our roots deep and wide.

How quickly are you able to return to a state of calm inner balance during a crisis, and connect strongly with what matters most to you? How easy do you find it to make choices? Would you like to strengthen your foundation?

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

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Photo By Chad Cooper via

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