Last month, I had the pleasure of presenting a brief workshop on leadership. The focus was on finding and embracing our own leadership gifts and skills, and I called the workshop “The Leader in the Mirror.” It was inspired in large part by many of you, both former and current clients, who I see as true leaders in your workplaces. The workshop was designed to encourage the participants to examine and embrace their own qualities of leadership.
The Leadership Challenge, by James Kouzes and Barry Posner, is one of the best books on leadership that I have come across. The book is solidly based on research that looked for patterns of success in ordinary people when they were at their “personal best” in leading others. The authors found that the most-cited qualities of a leader are: honest, forward-looking, competent, and inspiring. I asked each of the workshop participants to consider how they view and express these qualities in their own lives.
The quest for leadership is, first of all, a quest to discover who you are: what you care about, what you value, what inspires and challenges you, what gives you power, what encourages you. In my own life and work, I have found it very helpful to take the time to really think about these things, and how they are reflected in my daily actions, thoughts, and attitudes. When I am restless, unmotivated, or unclear, I often realize it is because I am not truly aligned with who I really am and what I care about and value.
According to Kouzes and Posner, what people most want in a leader is credibility, someone who walks their talk, practices what they preach, and does what they say they will do. This month, I am focusing on this idea of credibility in my own life. What do I believe in? What do I stand for? How do my actions reflect my values? Am I trustworthy? What is my level of expertise and competence, and is it growing? Do I truly have the ability to inspire others?
May I support you in your own quest for discovering the leader in the mirror? It would be my privilege to do so.
Sharon Keys Seal