The qualities of a great leader, I am discovering are pretty similar worldwide. Or rather, when I googled this question, most content listed the same or similar traits as significant.
No doubt you may have your own ideas of what a leader looks like or what they might do and the qualities they possess to make them so. These idea’s or concepts are what you use to decide whether you yourself are a good leader. It’s your inner Leadership Template! If you fit the template, that is great news and it’s likely that you identify with those qualities, they are prevalent in your working life and you have little doubt as to how to lead or whether your leadership is effective. But, if you don’t fit that template, whether you are in a position of leadership or would like to be, you’re likely to be struggling and wondering how you can mould yourself into the Leadership Template!
Either way, the fact is, any idea that humans have of a ‘Leadership Template’ made of qualities, concepts and ideas, is likely to be way off what an actual great leader would define themselves as. Fitting ourselves into a ‘template’ is not actually the best way for us to even grow or develop into a great leader. Certainly, the qualities that most conceive as desirable in a leader, are not the stuff that leaders are made of and are not available to them 100% of the time. Leadership it seems, like everything else in life, is a moment to moment experience.
So, what are these qualities anyway you may be wondering. The most common are things like: confidence, authenticity, integrity, generosity, insightfulness, decisiveness, positivity. They all sound plausible don’t they? In fact, they really sound like the qualities that I myself would love but sometimes, these qualities seem to evade me. When I delved further though, I found some surprising qualities on the list like: restlessness, even wonkiness. Im not even sure what wonkiness means? Although, I can guess, because, sometimes I have wonky days too.
That got me thinking! These qualities, they sound like traits that every human I have ever met has within them. There is nothing that I came across that I could rule out as not being available to me or you. Obviously, there is something missing from the equation that we aren’t noticing.
It was the last session with one of my wonderful clients yesterday. She is the CEO of a global organisation and when we started to work together she had questions that she wanted answers to. She was unsure of whether to move on to something new. Her organisation had gone through a huge change over the last few years and it was taking it’s toll on. She felt anything but the amazing leader that she is! She was making decisions for everyone and rather than growing in the direction that she had hoped, the question she needed to ask herself was whether to continue and risk her health, relationships and sanity, or whether to bail out, find something new and start again.
Throughout our time together, she has recognised her decisiveness, her confidence, her integrity, her authenticity, generosity and positivity but what she also noticed was these qualities weren’t as available to her in every moment and she wanted them back! What she was actually experiencing was her wonkiness and restlessness. Now, according to sources, restlessness and wonkiness are desirable, but to my client, they were anything but!
The real source of good Leadership
Fast forward 6 months and she has stripped her organisation back, stripped her ‘self’ back. She has uncovered glitches that were clogging up the system. She had unearthed what needed to be unearthed and she has rejigged and reshaped a structure that she had been trying with all her might to contain and keep in place. She is in Service!
As we reflected last night on her journey over the last 6 months, she recognised how scary this had been. How she had moments where it looked like everything she had worked so hard for was simply crumbling and that she had failed. It had seemed to her that it was her job to keep it all together and during the last few years. she had worked harder, longer and faster to try to do so! Working that way was not enabling her to be and remain in Service. Being in Service requires your best ‘self’ to show up whenever its available but it also requires you to know that even when it doesn’t show up, it’s still there!
Being in Service is exactly how any and every Great Leader continues their mission and is able to bring forward their decisiveness, confidence, integrity, generosity and authenticity, even when these qualities seem to have deserted them!
Finally my client said the difference that really made the difference was understanding her true nature and noticing, in real time, the ebb and flow of her felt experience, of life!
Really seeing for herself that a Leader will have a range of feelings, including not feeling like a Leader and when this seems true, it has the potential to affect her ability to lead. In fact, this is what happened over the last twelve months, until it gradually dawned on her that during each and every session, we were able to discover those qualities and let them shine.
What my client now has is a refreshed global organisation that she is excited about leading and furthermore, she knows that she is fully equipped for the job! She works less, gets more done and has a better quality of balance in all areas of life, including her relationships and health. All of the qualities listed above are prevalent and available to her in any given moment, but for her insecurity. The desirable qualities in fact, are symptoms rather than causes! They’re symptoms of our moment to moment experience. When she remains in Service to her ‘self’, she naturally calibrates and readjusts and her best ideas, her genius, her fresh thinking has emerged from that place. Being in ‘Service’ to her ‘self’ has benefitted her whole organisation, her personal relationships and her zest fro life!
When we start to understand that our moment to moment experience of life is transient, changeable and not fixed at all, we start to understand why those qualities, or any other qualities, come and go. Life isn’t made of fixed, permanent unchangeable moods or feelings. It is made of fleeting, changeable and variable feelings, moment to moment to moment. Knowing this has enabled her to see just how much she was doing to try and change a feeling and whilst she was doing that, she wasn’t able to access her best ideas, her natural ability to connect and her resilience. She was in fact fighting invisible fires.
Surprisingly for her, but actually not so for me, my client has discovered her inner and innate resilience! She is now conscious, aware and awake to life more of the time and she understands that she gets to listen to her wisdom! Her inner sat nav is her feelings in any given moment. The knowing that the feeling is a reminder of how close or how far away she is walking from her true nature, her inner leader and it is beckoning her to return to her centre has been pivotal.
An insecure feeling is never a warning or sign that we are actually insecure, useless and need to work harder and faster. Neither is it an indication of failure or wrong doing. Our insecurity, whether it is in the form of fear, anxiety or a gentle for-boding, is in fact calling out to us that we are forgetting that we are enough in this moment. The more we ignore this inner sat nav, the louder it will beep! It is trying to keep us on course.
It was so good to see my client fully aware of her centre, of her resilience, health and wellbeing and the joy shining through her smile was a reminder to me why I do this work!
When your inner leader deserts you, remember that it’s simply buried beneath the chaos of an insecure feeling and there is nothing that you need to do to beckon it to return! What you could do instead is remember that the real signs of a good leader is your inner knowing and connectedness to your innate wisdom and resilience and the awareness that in this very moment, you are enough. That is the difference that makes the difference. That is why some Leaders naturally lead and some Leaders never lead at all. It’s because those that never become Leaders, aren’t aware that it is innate and that they can!
Go on, unleash your inner Leader!