Personal Leadership

  • Sep 08, 2005
  • Vicky Smith
  • Management

"EVERYTHING RISES AND FALLS ON LEADERSHIP”. I have been researching and pondering this statement in preparation for a management training. It has made me reflect about the word leadership as well as its impact in my business and personal life. Whenever we hear the word ‘leader’ we immediately think of the ‘boss’. It can be the person who is the ‘boss’ of Canada, Ontario, London, the company we work for or our homes.
 We are very comfortable with the ‘boss’ concept because we grew up with it in our homes, schools and certainly where we work. In someway it’s great to have all these bosses because when things don’t go right in our lives we have someone to blame. Parents of teenagers can you related to this?

With having these ‘bosses’ in our lives, complacency thrives. What’s the point of trying or doing anything because the ‘boss’ is going to do whatever she/he wants. Sub-consciously we all breathe a sigh of relief because we don’t have to take responsibility for our actions. We can always put the onus on the ‘boss’.

In my research, I came upon another statement. “Leadership begins with personal leadership. You can’t change in others what you are not prepared to first change in yourself.” I started thinking what it would be like if we all accepted leadership of our lives. That would mean taking personal responsibility for our actions and all the outcomes.

I started to let my mind wander to what type of ripple affect would happen if I started to take responsibility for all my actions? The movie ‘Pay It Forward’, was about one young boy who took on the responsibility for changing destiny. I know it only happens in the movies but lets think about Mother Theresa or Desmond Tutu or Martin Luther King. They were once an average young girl or boy!

Our minds are so clutters with complacent thinking that we don’t have the time to be disciplined to do the right things. Leadership principles are basic and really quite simple to understand; but few people are willing to risk shedding their indifference to create positive change.

Everything we do, whether we accept it or not, is a result of a choice we made. We chose our spouses, bosses and political leaders. If we let our sweethearts talk us into getting married, we made choices to go along. If we took jobs because the money was good but the bosses were miserable, we made choices to take the job. If we didn’t vote, we made choices to give over power to others.

Responsibility is taking ownership for our problems and doing the hard work to deal with them. I admire the members of the Alliance Party who are taking a stand for who they want their leader to be. They are taking personal responsibility, whether they are misguided or not, to stand for their convictions. It makes me think about the times I become irritated about this situation or that and chose apathy or blame over response or action.
I have a friend, who holds a very senior position in her organization. She had the courage to address concerns brought to her by others about the effectiveness of the President. She still has her job and the respect of the senior management team, including the President, because she handled the situation in a professional but caring manner. She spoke first with the President and outlined her concerns and her course of action before taking the issues to others.

How many people do you know say all the right things and expect everyone else to live by them – but themselves! My friend ‘walks her talk’. We chose our values and it’s very hard in our materialistic and striving world, to choose values that will benefit others as well as ourselves. Fear of losing everything, if we give something away to the next guy has paralyzed us into indifference and smugness. The attitude is, “watch your back, so someone doesn’t stab you” or “ step on them first before they get you” or “he who has the most toys when he dies, wins”. An exercise to help decide what type of values we want to model is: think about if it was our funeral and we somehow could hear people talking, what would we want them saying about the type of person we were. The purpose of the exercise is to start living those values now.

In preparing for training sessions, I often find that I am lulled out of my complacency and think about how I lead my life. Mahatma Gandhi said, “ We are the chance we want the world to be.”