A career that spans over thirty years has taught me that leadership is the process of influencing others, and so the definition goes beyond that initial statement depending on any individual career setting; my own definition of leadership is simplified to “leadership equals responsibility”, (Gutierrez, et’al 2015, p.217). Leadership is an individual and personal calling. A calling that burns within you, yet very difficult to understand of even comprehend. This calling to lead yields a purposeful life once the calling is answered. The challenge is in being able to hear and heed the call given the myriad distractions and competing options in one’s career path.
My Leadership Philosophy
My leadership philosophy reflects a departure of previous thinking that focused on individual traits attributable to what a leader should possess in the hopes of leadership competence. The nuance of this revised philosophy aims for actionable descriptors of future think that provides the azimuth of a way of being; a powerful interpretation of what a leader must be by engaging in patterns of behaviors that are committed to a philosophy of leadership that is grounded on personal and transformative belief’s systems. In short, yet described below, my leadership philosophy is a personal call that dares to dream, leads by example, has a plan, leadership being personal, believing in oneself, faith in something greater, thinking of problems as opportunities, and ultimately in giving back to others while expecting nothing in return.
Dare to dream: As the oldest of three children growing in a land where communism denied us freedom of speech and rights and privileges afforded a free society we found ourselves longing for our dad as he was incarcerated for fighting to free his land from the cruelty of government oppression. He became a political prisoner and we were not wanted in our own land. Mom tended to us and raised us in the belief that the future was good and yet to come. She focused our hearts in our faith in God and the dream of someday being free and living in America where our dreams could be realized. She was right. 44 years later our families beat the odds and now live free with our own individual families, homes and businesses in this place we call the United States of America.
Lead by example: Cease the initiative and model the proper behaviors. Not all opportunities are good, so you must seek the knowledge and leadership skills to hone and grow your leadership acumen. To most effectively lead others, consider mastering the art of self- leadership. Understanding who you are and what gives your life value will help you to establish your life’s purpose and pursue it with confidence, skill, and commitment. Know where you are going and how you are going to get there! Leadership should be focused on the future, innovation, and where one is headed.
Have a plan: You must have a plan to go along with those dreams. And it must be oriented with both short and long-term goals; goals that are in writing, in harmony, specific, measurable, attainable and accountable, realistically high and relevant, timely and ultimately yours.
Leadership is personal: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Developing a relationship requires exposing vulnerabilities, taking an emotional risk creates the personal connection that humanizes all of us and takes us from a position of being liked to a position of being trusted. Emotionalizing the process can be dangerous if done improperly, however, invoking feelings can be a powerful way of ensuring your message is received and understood. This should be a genuine attempt to connect emotionally. An image must be created in the mind’s eye to have a causal effect.
Believe in yourself: Believing in what you do is the first step in realizing your dreams. You must believe in yourself! The use of daily affirmations and positive thinking can be an effective mechanism as you struggle with your fears. If you believe that you can do something, then it will be so.
Faith: Faith and belief go hand and hand; however, faith is not taught in business schools today or any secular leadership academy; it’s passed down through our families and tested throughout life’s journey as part of our values system. Faith is different than belief because it forces us to trust in something or someone greater than ourselves, something or someone we have not seen.
Turn obstacles into opportunities: Some time back I opted to look at problems through a different lens. I began to think of problems as potential opportunities. Challenges that needed solving. For me, it has become a matter of having the right attitude.
Give back: Giving back is essential to success, you see, I believe we truly are our brothers keepers and while each of us is responsible for our own actions and decisions, leadership comes with a societal responsibility of helping those who otherwise can’t help themselves.
My understanding and thinking of leadership has been broadened beyond traits and even individual greatness. I view it as knowing that leadership is personal and a career choice that must be carefully considered before embarking in a journey where others become recipients of your leadership. Leadership is not an individualized activity, but instead is better thought off as a process between people.
A closing thought comes to mind from seeing the emergence of new leaders with global impact and the role the media plays on our perception of leaders and their leadership. Meindl et al. (1985, p. 78) suggest that the concept of leadership “has thereby gained a brilliance that exceeds the limits of normal scientific inquiry…the corresponding symbolism, imagery, mythology and stories associated with the concept of leadership are evidence of the mystery with which leadership has been imbued.” The 2016 election of a leader with business experience has brought the concept of disruption into the political domain; everything is being questioned, the status quo is no longer relevant and as results are pursued, the study of leadership promises to continue to challenge researchers if the future to come. The concept of disruption does not have to be disruptive, instead it can be a useful tool within the space of the senior leadership tool bag to be transformative. People that exist, work and depend on the power to inform others must embrace their responsibility and the power they possess to influence how people, such as the consumers of information, view their everyday life; the media plays a powerful role in this social spectrum and is more than ever in need of introspection as they struggle with balancing their need of journalistic integrity and continue to serve those that seek to be informed in a responsible way. Leadership equals responsibility.
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