Two Minutes On Leadership

A participant in one of my recent leadership programs was challenged with preparing a two minute talk to a group of high level leaders from across Canada. She asked me what I think is the most important thing or habit leaders need in order to be successful.

What would your answer be if someone asked you for a two minute summary of your philosophy on leadership?

Here’s my response:

  1. Leadership is the capacity of human beings to shape and create a new future – by inspiring and engaging others.
  2. Leadership is about presence, not position. Great leadership cannot be reduced to technique or title. Great leadership comes from the identity and the integrity of the leader. Leadership is the way you live your life. Your power as a leader comes from being an integrated and real human being. This makes every person a potential leader.
  3. You aren’t a leader until someone says you are. You have to earn the right to be called a leader. While you may get promoted to being a boss, you don’t get promoted to leadership. You have to earn the right to be a leader.

In this high tech world, leadership needs to be about high touch (thanks John Nesbitt). Leadership, in today’s world, is ultimately about connection. Connection to: (1) Your authentic self: your values, your unique talents, your aspirations, your dreams, your passion. Take time for reflection, for clarity about what matters most in your life, to listen to the voice inside of you.  Connection to: (2) Those you serve, your stakeholders: those who depend on you and those to whom you depend. Get out of your office, away from your computers, and make contact with people. Find out what inspires the people you serve, what matters to them, how you can support them. Leadership can probably be summed up with one word: conversation. You can assess the level of impact you are having by the depth and honesty of the conversations you are creating.