Last week I was interviewed in a series focused on women in leadership. The interviewer – an intrepid young woman by the name of Kouros Alaee asked me this obvious, but not simple question: Why is leadership important?
Why even have a conversation about it?
Wow! What a GREAT question!
In social science parlance (my own personal training ground), there are levels of analysis:
Macro, Meso and Micro. So, to answer the question, “Why is leadership important?” my mental autopilot scans through these levels. At what level do you mean ‘why is leadership important’? What is your interest in having that question answered?
The macro-level answer might be that we have failures in leadership everywhere we look! (Check out our national political scene). And, where we haven’t got leadership failures occurring, we have plain leadership gaps! Most importantly, we attribute most of our business and social dysfunctions to these very leadership failures and gaps. That makes leadership very important!
At the meso-level, leadership is a critical strategic planning consideration. How will we prepare our future leaders to be effective at stewarding our political, economic and social organizations? If we could design training that would teach high potentials to be effective leaders, we’d have a more robust internal succession plan. This might be especially top of mind inside executive teams with great responsibility, and inside family businesses, foundations or teams with long standing employees who are not yet ready to powerfully advance the mission of the organization. Leadership is critical to talk about because there is something important to do to repair the failures and fill the gaps that cause dysfunction.
This brings us to the micro-level. If leadership failures and gaps are causing trouble, and planning effectively to repair them is how we’ll turn dysfunction into results, then what is it precisely that our leadership development training should teach? Unfortunately, most well-established leadership development curricula do not actually pop effective leaders out the other end. Often, the syllabus contains topics like these:
- Vision setting
- Time management
- Life-work balance
- Effective communication
- Strategic planning
- Developing others
These skills ARE important. In fact, they’re critical. Yet,
Having these skills doesn’t make one a leader.
So what does?
How is it that we can actually develop real leadership if not through teaching and training skills?
It turns out that skills of leadership are secondary to the integrity and grit of leadership. The integrity and grit of leadership is the foundation of Deep Ownership.
I believe that everything we want in life lies on the other side of something called deep ownership. Deep Ownership is the essence of knowing what is in our control, what isn’t, and having the clarity, heart and integrity to own our choices absolutely. Deep ownership is the endgame of true personal leadership. It matters everywhere!
When moms and dads embrace the integrity of personal leadership, they are loving and powerful parents.
When intimate partners are self-led, there is freedom inside their relationship to choose love, truth and deep ownership – and from that place passion blossoms.
When leaders begin with leading themselves first, their teams are more productive, engaged, innovative and happy.
Companies that prioritize effective leadership are far more profitable.
That’s why leadership matters.
So, what kind of leadership development does pop out leaders on the other end?
I’ve witnessed 1000s of people participate in some of the most effective leadership development programming available, and some of them did not choose to take up the mantle of fierce ownership and self-leadership at the other end of it. However, the reason those people did not do so was because they were going through the motions. They continued through the program committed to fear, hiding and blame.
The brilliant great news is this: The ones who truly, deeply intend to BE leaders of their own lives do take up the mantle of leadership. They choose Love, Truth and Deep Ownership.
Programming that shows earnest students of leadership how to BE leaders, how to choose integrity and alignment from love, truth and fierce ownership – how to bring leadership home – makes it possible for committed leaders and high potential leaders to lead congruently, everywhere in their lives. And once those individuals take up the mantle of leadership – they then know how to acquire the important skills of Vision setting, Time management, Life-work balance, Effective communication, Strategic planning, Delegation and Developing others.
The plain truth is that the BE-ingness of leadership trumps the skills of leadership every single time.
To your continued flourishing success.
PS: If you would like to have a conversation with me about Bringing Leadership Home – the program that fosters Deep Ownership in teams and leaders, please click here.