When leadership is absent, you know it, and when it is present, you feel it.
Leaders influence and make things happen.
Maintaining the status quo is not one of the traits of effective leadership.
Leaders are always re-evaluating their stand and game plan. They challenge the status quo, define reality for what it really is and paint the pictures of preferred futures.
Leaders take action and inspire action.
Leaders who are content to sit around, be admired — but are ineffective — are a hoax.
Mere positions are not all there is to leadership. Abusive leadership is an aberration to this noble and lofty call. Wherever there is human activity, there is a need for leadership.
Leadership demands courage and humble resolve. Leadership with no vision has no viable mandate.
Leadership with a narrow and parochial vision will always feel challenged. Leadership is more than a title, bigger than a position and deeper than a job description.
The challenge of our day is leadership that is interested in its own gains and personal conveniences.
Leadership does not mean absence of accountability. The race for positions without depth of vision puts leadership on trial.
The call of leadership is service and driving towards a vision of greater good.
Mahatma Gandhi is an Indian legend, famous for leading the Indian nation to independence by advocating peace, minimalism, unity and self-reliance.
He died in 1948, yet his life and words keep inspiring and challenging all leadership arenas everywhere.
When he died, he had very little possessions but had global influence.
When leadership is most effective it does not require to be propped up by toys.
What is inside a leader is bigger than whatever is outside him.
Gandhi’s life is ample testimony that leadership is more of a spirit than things. Lead wherever you are and make a difference in your space.
Leadership is not about dizzy heights only but meeting felt needs and making a difference where it counts.
Choose to count by making a difference.
Among the things that Gandhi taught are the timeless “Seven Social Sins”, which are: Politics without principles, wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice.”
This calls for deep introspection.
Taking these to the leadership plane, I would say that the Seven Leadership Sins are: Leadership without principles, leadership without work, leadership without conscience, leadership without character, leadership without morality, leadership without humanity, and leadership without sacrifice.
Wherever these leadership sins are found, leadership is dysfunctional and repentance is demanded.
Leaders will always be subjected to scrutiny and sometimes bitter criticism. It is better to be criticised for doing something than to be praised for doing nothing.
The leadership work
Do not wait for a position to lead. Lead from whatever place you find yourself at. Leadership is about embracing a noble picture and working and mobilising others towards that picture.
Sometimes the work of the leader is about gradual improvement and at times it is about radical change. Leadership and vision are bedfellows.
Leadership and strategy are Siamese twins. Touch someone everyday; be an answer to someone.
Make a difference somewhere every day. Leadership happens daily in small and large windows; big and small stages.
Do not wait for your finest hour, because that hour could easily pass as an ordinary fleeting moment.
What you do daily, determines the tenure of your leadership. Catch ordinary moments and opportunities to lead.
Do not wait for lightning to strike in order for you to wake up to your leadership vision. Rise and shine. Rise and be counted.
Winston Churchill, the Wartime Prime Minister of Britain, once said: “To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”
The finest hours of leadership come your way all the time.
They are best prepared for by leading daily and making a difference where you are.
Leadership is a journey that starts but never ends.
When you lead often, your mind is primed to see leadership opportunities when they come.
The leadership arena
So where do you lead? Everywhere you see a gap and a begging need.
Do not wait to be appointed to make a difference. Do not wait to be given a seat in order to start serving.
Serve where you are with what you have.
Bloom where you are planted. Plough the field you find yourself in. Carry the burdens you see. Leaders see opportunities to positively influence and make a difference. It not leadership to hope that someone is solving a problem that you are ignoring.
It is not the one who sees the problems and complains about them who is the leader. That is just an armchair critic.
It is the one who commits to and does something about the problem who is the leader.
Carry your burden of leadership and make a difference.
You need not look far to supply leadership. Look around and the problems you see are a leadership opportunity.
The leadership battle
The leadership battle is focus. A leader who cannot focus will be scattered and ineffective. Choose your focus and run your race.
Focus on your mission. As a leader focus on what matters. Focus on where you are going to and not where you do not want to go.
A leader without priorities is taking his followers nowhere. Leadership is about choices. You have to choose what you will do and what you will not do.
What matters most must never be sacrificed for what matters not. Choose what matters and do that which matters.
The leadership battle is to come alive and burn with a cause that positively infects others, prompting them to march towards greatness.
Do not worry about doing great things, worry about catching a great fire and coming alive.
Find those things that light up a fire within you and do more of them.
When that flame is burning you are unstoppable.
The leadership battle is to protect and to stroke that fire. It is that fire burning within that creates momentum.
A leader without a defined passion has nothing to sell.
The leadership obsession
The leadership obsession is growth. Not just growth in numbers, but personal growth. When you grow as a leader you widen the runway for others and raise their roof. Grow daily as a leader. Do not park or look back. A leader who arrives too soon becomes a liability.
Keep challenging your limits and realities. When your world is limited to your bundle of your aches and pains, you become a short-sighted leader obsessed with personal comfort and self preservation.
Be obsessed with growth.
Expose yourself and cultivate your gifting and perspectives. Your little spaces are not all the world.
Do not despair because the challenge looks big and impossible. Keep trying and doing. Limited leaders limit others.
Unexposed leaders operate in the darkness of presumptions and error.
Keep growing and raising your standards. Keep finding room for improvement. Keep asking what is not yet perfect.
As you get even busier, do not forget to grow. Anyone who has stopped growing should never be let loose near any leadership function.
Leadership is not a retirement pastime.
The opportunities to lead are everywhere. Leaders persuade and influence. They paint an exciting future and passionately pursue it. The leadership spirit does not ask for comfort, only for a little opportunity. Like Archimedes who asked for a lever long enough and knew he then could move the world.
That lever in my view is leadership.
I am always inspired by these words of George Bernard Shaw that embody the leadership spirit: “I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live.
Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to the future generations.”
A leader wants to give it all and make a difference with every breath.
The many problems we have call for the leadership spirit. When leaders arise, positive change begins. When leaders are cowards, they are undertakers of progress and accessories of death.
Choose to make a difference every day. Work harder and make a bigger difference. To lead is a special privilege and opportunity to make a difference and be the proverbial salt. The prayer of every leader is to be thoroughly used up for some worthy purpose by the time you die. Anything less is a waste.
Go for greatness and realise that with or without a title you are a leader and you have no one to blame.
Milton Kamwendo is an international transformational and inspirational speaker, author and coach. He is a strategy, innovation, team-building and leadership facilitator. He can be reached at: [email protected] and Twitter: @MiltonKamwendo or WhatsApp at: 0772422634.
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