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Apr 16

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Leadership (your way)

‘What is leadership?’ is a question which keeps popping into conversations with clients and friends recently.

I reckon it’s not about having followers, an official title or shiny badge. Neither is it necessary to have a vision, strategy or exemplary communication skills (although those can help).

I experience great leadership in people who are being fully themselves, unencumbered by layers of thoughts, plans, imaginary rules. They seem to have a way to tune in to the right thing to do or say.

That’s why many leadership skills don’t translate brilliantly from person to person.

Trying to reverse engineer and recreate someone else’s solution to ‘leadership’ seems to tangle us up in ‘shoulds, musts, and oughts’. It’s enough to leave anyone flummoxed and tongue-tied.

It really doesn’t have to be that complicated. Great leaders show up as themselves and do what seems right to them.

There’s inherent power in that. An authenticity and vulnerability which allows an inner brightness to reflect on others. This lights up colleagues, friends, family members, team mates or other people on the train. This makes it easier for them to be themselves too.

I love watching this effect on the Tube. Everyone’s being deadly serious and pretending not to notice all the other human beings in close proximity. Then, when someone breaks the spell (whether accidentally or from curious mischievousness) there’s a breakout of humanity and people reveal themselves.

I’ve also seen this in the training room, where people reveal themselves with decisiveness and clarity. It’s quite something to witness.

So if it’s not about tools and techniques, how do we become better leaders? I’d say we start noticing what happens when we get out of our own way and show up as ourselves. And it’s pretty cool so we do more of it.

It’s not about actively doing nothing. It’s about noticing the things we do that get in the way of being ourselves. Noticing seems to dissolve those things. This is why coaching (spending time considering how we show up and be ourselves, and what’s getting in the way) can help develop our own, innate, bespoke, made-to-measure, unique brand of effortless leadership.

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