Leadership development occurs over time and involves the inevitable fusion of one’s experiences, acquired knowledge, development of skills and a lot of personal introspection. Leaders are intended to inspire, motivate, educate others towards a common goal. Good leaders develop a strong vision, design a detailed strategy to reach the common goal. Better leaders create a positive atmosphere and working environment enabling others to want to follow. The best leaders are able to effectively communicate, and guide a team strategically towards the common goal in a positive manner because people want to work with them.
We all want to be the best leader, the one who inspires, who people want to follow and work for. There is something seductive and addictive about being a leader. It provides us with the opportunity to drive and take the wheel of a truly exceptional machine. It allows us to be the great orator for the masses, to own the proverbial spotlight. So, we bask in accolades, soak up the sun and seek our next great adventure, project or team to lead. We feel content as our sense of belonging and of fulfillment is met. We genuinely believe this is what we are meant to do, our true purpose.
If indeed our purpose and passion is to be a leader, then it may be possible we have only reached one of the manyplateaus on our journey. If we believed our journey would in fact conclude when we reached the summit as our final destination we would cease to evolve and miss out on an entirely new, rarely explored leg of the journey. A journey which could truly be the best part of our career and have the longest lasting impact on ourselves and others; the creation of our future leaders.
Should you resolve to evolve then welcome to your next chapter where it isn't all about you. One of the most difficult transitions every leader faces is knowing when it is time to let go and to step back. I know, you are thinking that it will not be a problem for you. You have developed in an era where you had to wait your turn and promised yourself that when you had your turn it would be different. OK then, take a good look around you and while you are at it, take a good look at you too. Are you doing it differently? Are you leading the charge for change?
If you are leading the charge - then you are still hanging out on your summit guiding others up to see the view, your vision and next mission. But what if, just this once, you take a different approach. It's ok if it feels uncomfortable, and unfamiliar, its also ok if you suffer a few setbacks. Build a progression, or take baby steps and develop your new mantra and mission…"Learn to Let Go" " They have this" "Be Open" "It’s not about me."
Letting go of 'control', 'power' and 'leadership' as you have previously known it is the true art form of becoming a mentor. Your mission now is to provide control, power and leadership opportunity to another or others. Every opportunity you get to create a positive learning environment or atmosphere, to coach or mentor, to support, to provide insight, to provide a safety net, to allow for mistakes will create the change. It is your time to observe closely for the hidden talents, and the vast knowledge, skills and depth of passion and leadership within your colleagues. It is their time to lead be successful and celebrate the victories.
Your victory will be different. It will be subtle and quiet and personal. There may be no fanfare, no awards, no pay increase or even a formal thank you. But your gift of letting it go to give time, energy, passion and most importantly presence to others will have a lasting impact. Your greatest career accomplishment or victory may be hidden in the journey of others towards leadership and success.