Leadership is all about inspiring and developing others. Those considered leaders make a (hopefully positive) impact on the lives of other people. This is done when one has a life worthy of inspiring others. I don’t know of anyone who leads others who isn’t worthy of following.
Think about the qualities you value in others. It is possible that these are the same qualities that you value in yourself. A simple exercise is to ask someone who knows you well to describe you. While there can be great variety in words used to describe us, it is likely that if we ask several people to do this, there will be some cross-over in the words that are used. Try this exercise and see if it provides you any insight into qualities others see in you. Once you have done this, decide if these words are qualities that you see in yourself and if these are qualities that you value.
I did this, and words that someone used to describe me are: wonderful, dedicated, strong-willed, loving, and serving. As I consider these, the one that is the hardest for me to evaluate is “wonderful.” What makes me wonderful, I wonder? Not knowing what to do with that word, I put it aside, and thought of the other words.
Dedicated, strong-willed, loving, and serving are words that I am glad are associated with me in this person’s mind. They are also words that I think are positive, not negative, although if one is too strong-willed, that can be negative. I did not give any instructions to the person regarding the words used to describe me, other than when asked, “How many”? I asked for one more than had been given.
As I thought about these words, I then evaluated whether they are qualities that I value. Dedicated to what? Loving in what way? Serving how? Strong-willed as positive, or is it also negative in this person’s opinion? These are questions that I asked myself; I did not verbalize them. These are qualities that I value. Also, I am not surprised that these words were used to describe me, although I am not sure that I would have come up with the same words.
Are these qualities, dedicated, strong-willed, loving, and serving qualities of a leader? I am not evaluating whether I am considered a leader. That is for others to determine about us, not for us to decide about ourselves. But are leaders usually dedicated, strong-willed, loving, and serving? What do you think?
Another exercise is to think of someone that you know, and who you consider to be a leader. Identify qualities you see in that person. I did this, and the qualities that came to mind are dependable, humble, hard-working, committed, and fair. These are different qualities than those identified for me. While dependable and dedicated are similar, none of the other qualities are. What does this mean? Simply that there can be great variety in qualities people think of when considering the behavior of others. What does this have to do with personal leadership?
Leadership is first and foremost personal. Think of yourself, and what qualities others might identify for you. What do those qualities represent? Do you like what you see? Are these qualities that inspire and develop others, including those in your family, such as your children? Are these qualities that would make you proud if they were used in your eulogy?
As long as we are alive, we can change what we want to change about ourselves. Behavior change is not easy, but we can change most of what we want to change if we work at it with dedication and commitment.
Leadership is being played out on the national stage with what is happening in Ukraine. Closer to home, leadership is also being played out in our families.