I need to ensure that I sanitise the essence of this article upfront so that as a leader you can read it as: do I possess qualities worthy of leading? This is more an introspective than self-worth exercise. Not egotistical but instead a real look into the mirror.
The leader needs to have developed characteristics that distinguish him (please remember that the male reference has reference to the female too) as needing to lead. Let us admit it: we allow someone to lead us because we believe they possess something that we ourselves do not possess, or it could be that we do possess but not to the degree that the leader possesses. So we place them on a level higher than our own and look to them for using those different characteristics to positively help us get to the desired destination.
C-r-i-t-i-c-a-l! We do not like to be led by just anyone. This person must be special. When this person says we will, we do. When they say tomorrow, we start today. When they say let’s, you have already started asking how do you want me involved. They just possess qualities we look at and say ‘I wish I had that gift’.
The Platform is really significant because it then places a lot of responsibility on the leader to know himself exceptionally well and also know what the people’s expectations are of him. The leader then takes decision to hone these special traits as spokes to ensure that he will get everyone to the destination. The leader does not necessarily need to become an object of the followers’ fantasies but instead needs to understand what the followers’ desires are and how they see him being able to help them.
What type of qualities are those? There are a few of these that are generic, when I look at the type of people I have thoroughly enjoyed being led by, such as:
- Depth to mentor
- Courage to collaborate and draw knowledge from followers, to use for the common goal
- Mettle to correct and the emotional intelligence to subsequently build for greatness
- The capacity to contain a dream until its fulfilment
I stop there. There are too many, but for me these are generic. Leading is not a fun-ride but a hard and yet fulfilling role where as a leader you are consistently developing so that your relevance in helping get to the destination remains true. Uncommon features, that clearly yell: this is why we chose you, because you can help us get there!
Why is this exciting? Well we tend to make leadership as though it is clinical, but instead, it is also an emotive thing. We look to someone to say please take us there. One of the best places to see this aspect play out is in organisations that are ‘Not-For-Profit’. In this environment the followers choose who they would like to have as a leader, a message of ‘please take us forward’. So how do you choose someone to lead: you ask what can they do that I can’t. Isn’t that the logical step?
Now for the one selected, there comes HUGE responsibility. To always be sharpening your capabilities! You need to continuously be on a path of improvement, including working on those that you did not focus on in the past but have been highlighted as real gifts you appear to have.
If it is integrity, you need to find new ways of exercising integrity and expressing this (not for show), but to have a health check to ensure that you are not leaning on false standards but instead a real standard. For example, for me it is a total dependence on God to walk better and better as a man of integrity. That is my check that I am not failing. A daily walk to ensure that even the joke that I tell is not laden with lies, the claim form I submit is true and nothing is inflated, the message I extend to someone that it is not malicious but instead contains the fullness of what was conveyed and only that, etc. What is really important to note is that people actually measure themselves against a potential leader by checking what he does when he is not aware that all eyes are on him.
The Platform is not a negative thing, but instead a fantastic pillar in leadership that helps keep a leader true to himself and as a yardstick to measure current status for improvement and growth.