Leadership is a Practice

I love the way we talk leadership here. It always inspires me to read what others are saying, to hear the radio shows, to be in the presence of the Lead Change community. So here’s what I have been pondering lately. I hope we can continue to explore it together.

Consider this: True leadership is not a position or even a role you take on. It is an everyday, creative, constructive practice where you become increasingly aware of how you influence others with your actions, the ideas you share, the vision you lay out. That perspective brings about a whole new set of questions.

What would the practice entail?

If leaders get over themselves for a minute and take this on as a practice that can be expanded upon day by day their perspective might change radically. Into what they are doing in the now and how it is being received. Into what they can do to hone their leadership today. Into presence and awareness of what you are feeling, thinking, doing as a leader. Ask yourself the questions that allow you to explore the possibility of being a better leader for the practice you accumulated today. Instead of aiming for perfection and not showing weakness, leaders might lean towards vulnerability and welcoming feedback as ways of creating a learning environment for themselves to continuously improve. What ingredients would YOU add to your leadership mix if your intention were to practice leadership more and more?

What elements should a leader revisit frequently to get better at what she does?

When you are trying to be the perfect leader you want to be ahead of the bunch. Innovating. Leading to new heights, new depths, or totally new places. But when you are in the practice of leadership, you recognize the patterns. The way you come full circle and repeat the parts of the practice that you and your followers can still benefit from. Should you be questioning your assumptions? Could going back to the drawing board be the best way to move forward? Without the fear of losing the lead, a leader might find himself at ease with replenishing, revisiting, revising and re-energizing.

What must a leader remain passionate about to become more and more effective in time?

Just as with any practice, staying true to purpose helps. Why else would musicians repeat a passage of the score a zillion times? Why do YOU keep striving to lead? What makes you tick. If this is a practice it will require your determination, commitment and L-O-V-E. There! I have spelled it out. If you don’t LOVE leading, you probably won’t have what it takes to keep at it. Purposeful practice requires an ambition to thrive, to learn, to endlessly hone one’s skill and keep at it when it’s hard, easy, simple or difficult to see. There must be something else that moves you. Beyond the joy of being followed by others, or even seeing your vision take life. It must be in the practice itself. You become one of those rare individuals that are intrigued by setbacks, driven by puzzles, happy to put in the elbow grease and moments of frustration to continue on the path of a practicing leader.

So what other questions come up for you - as a leader - when you think of what you do as a practice? Does it bring up new ideas/actions? Does it free you or make you feel unsure? Try it on for size. Then, let us know what you are thinking. Surely, we can lead change by shifting our point of view about leadership as a practice. I welcome your thoughts and look forward to joining in this conversation with you.

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