Have you ever considered where leadership comes from?
When we picture leaders and followers, why do we so often find our thinking limited to certain stereotypes? Why do organizations often promote people who embody a certain type of leadership? Why does leadership feel reserved to just a special few? Because we have misunderstood what it means to be a leader.
From moments after we are born, we begin learning about leadership, who is a leader, and who isn’t.
- In the crib, our caregivers provide our first images of leadership as they guide, protect, teach, care for — and discipline — us.
- On the playground, we see some kids tell the group what to do, wielding power to accept or banish others.
- In sports, we hear how a great coach or captain can turn a middling team into champions.
- In movies, TV, and even family dinner table stories, we learn about heroes who single-handedly save the world — or prevail through misadventures and tragedies.
- News, books, and social media bring us examples of inspiring individuals who build business, weave together neighborhoods, and guide faith communities.
Through it all, we take in a powerful cultural narrative that leadership is the province of a few extraordinary — even heroic — leaders, and that the rest of us are mere followers.
Our vision of leadership is different.
- In the encouragement we give work colleagues when a project runs into an obstacle.
- In the way we care for children, conscious our every word and action is shaping their future.
- In how we reach out and offer aid in times of need — whether to close friends or complete strangers.
- In saying “no” to the boss or a client, feeling the risk and yet still choosing integrity in our truth.
- Even when we express our love by cooking a meal that brings joy and nourishment to the ones we care about!
All these have a common denominator:
We are moved by what we love — and from that essence of us, our response is simple, effortless, and impactful.
Life flows through us, we inspire it in others.
This is Essential Leadership.
This is the kind of leadership our world needs more of.
Leadership is for everyone, by everyone.
This doesn’t mean organizations should be leaderless — on the contrary, they must be leaderful.
We always need people, structures, and systems to bring us together, align our leadership, and give it direction. Yes, even leaders need leaders. But organizations suffer when leadership is relegated just to a select few and is not recognized and cultivated at every level in the organization.
We are issuing a call and an invitation to join a movement that supports us as human beings to find our unique, essential leadership path. And in this journey of discovery, the first step is to unlearn those beliefs which limit us in seeing our capacities as leaders. From that openness, we can encounter that which supports us in becoming more of who we are.
In the next few weeks we will continue to unpack what we mean by essential leadership and how we can cultivate it together as a movement to engage more fully in the world from that which we love and we care about.
Stay tuned — and in the meantime, please write back or visit us on social media (links below) to share what matters most in your life and how you find yourself giving that expression to that in the world.
And if you would like to deepen your own essential leadership, join us in our weekly Circle of Presence every Sunday at noon. For more information and to register, click below.