Leadership as a concept is tossed hither and thither these days, in every arena. In overusing the word, we run the risk of diluting it’s meaning and missing the importance of the concept. Yet it continues to be a critical and misunderstood skill. A good friend of mine phoned me a couple of days ago – someone I’ve known for many many years. Professionally, she changes lives (for the better). She told me a story of a high successful man, a leader of teams, companies and a single parent. This man was struggling at his 50th birthday – some years ago – because while he was known publicly as an exceptional leader, he had not yet learned the art of leadership of the self. He was very very intelligent, and sought expert help in learning emotional communication skills. Little did he know it was to mature him, and radically transform his personal life, his inner life and his professional life. I too work with exceptional leaders to help them apply their skills in more areas of their lives so I did a little research (yes, I am a geek!) and I found the following:
It turns out that leadership skills (vision, focus, clarity, decisiveness, honesty, integrity, excellent communication, commitment, positive outlook, intuition and the ability to inspire and empower others), also are the traits that allow a person to have a happy and fulfilling life. AND, these traits both require and feed emotional wellbeing. John C. Maxwell speaks of the 5 levels of leadership – and says that level 4 and 5 leaders are exceedingly rare. That is because it is an exceptionally courageous man or woman who picks up the mantle of leadership as well as the mantle of emotional wellbeing simultaneously. The insider truth though, is that once one does commit to both of these skill sets, life gets more fun, easier and far more abundant.
Emotional wellness is embodied by your ability to understand, express and manage, your emotions. Mature emotional wellness enables you to create the life you desire. A life filled with happiness and fulfillment. You define success in your own terms, not society’s, and you strive to achieve it. Your emotional wellbeing is one of the biggest factors in determining your ability to cope with stress, change and life’s challenges. It is so useful to have this level of personal leadership because like it or not, life tosses us challenge and change all the time!
The excellent news is that each of us has the capacity to develop emotional wellbeing. And wellbeing is essential for leadership – of the self and others. Here are 12 signposts that help you assess your own level – so you can begin to work on yours! It’s an ongoing life journey. I believe it was Confucius who said, “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is right now.”
You take responsibility for your own life. You understand that your current circumstances are a result of the decisions you have taken up to now. When something goes wrong, you do not rush to blame others. In fact, you look to yourself for the point of attraction, the thoughts and feelings you are creating – and the actions that result – and then stretch yourself to course correct.
You know that you do not need to have all the answers. As long as you can identify the problem, you can visualise a solution and research the best way to implement that solution.
Meeting the challenges of tomorrow requires learning and development today. You have a desire to learn and grow. Learning and development activities form a key part of your schedule.
Knowing that the way things are done can always be improved, you willingly seek out the opinions and views of others. You are willing to know that you may not know. You do not feel threatened when people disagree with you. If you feel that their way is better, you are happy to run with it.
Variety makes the world a more beautiful place. Even when you disagree with people, you do not feel the need to criticise them. Instead, you respect their right to their beliefs.
There will always be things that go wrong. There will always be setbacks and major disappointments. While you may initially be a little upset, the key is “a little.” Mature emotional wellbeing means you are able to express your feelings, identify the actions you can take, and move on.
It’s generally impossible to be calm 100% of the time but you are able to be relatively unflappable most of the time.
You are not deluded. You are well aware of the true state of things and you know that success requires effort and patience. You do, though, have an optimistic disposition whereby you believe you and the world will find your way. You also believe that there are opportunities out there for you, so you seek them out.
You are usually easy to get along with and people feel comfortable approaching you. Building relationships is never contrived; it comes easy to you.
You appreciate when others praise or compliment you. It feels good when they approve. However, when people do disapprove you remain confident in who you are and what you do. If you believe that a particular course of action is right for you, you will do it, whether they approve or not.
You don’t take yourself too seriously. You are able to enjoy a good laugh with friends and colleagues, even when you are the butt of the joke.
Emotional wellbeing allows you to take charge of your life. You have your own vision for your life and your own ambition for success. Focusing on realizing your vision, you can create a happy, healthy life where you respect yourself and others. When you develop emotional wellness and leadership, life becomes a joy rather than a chore. Your happiness and fulfillment are in your hands. Mature emotional skills don’t evolve overnight. It is a lifelong process that is exponential in its returns. I wish you much success.