Many people believe leadership is something that's conferred along with a title or attained when you direct a team of people, but true leadership is never about authority or power. It's about helping others grow, and that's something anyone can do.
If it's your desire to influence and have an impact on others, you have leadership qualities. And if you can inspire people to do something they thought they couldn't do, demonstrate how the impossible is possible, believe in someone when they didn't believe in themselves, you're already a leader.
People don't set out to be great leaders, they set out to make a difference. It's never about the role or the title, but about influencing others, helping and supporting them.
Suppose you’re confined to a nursing home. You’re elderly, you’ve lost much of your mobility, and your faculties are deteriorating. Along comes a Harvard University social psychology professor named Ellen Langer who takes you away on a retreat, where everything is transformed into the way it looked and felt when you were 25. Radios with vacuum tubes play rockabilly and Perry Como, a hardcover copy of Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger sits on a Danish modern coffee table (the movie won’t be released for several years yet), the clothing is au courant for 1959, and the conversation covers recent events like Fidel Castro’s invasion of Havana. The staff treat you like you’re in the prime of physical health, making you carry your own suitcases upstairs even if you haven’t recently lifted anything nearly that heavy. You know, at some level, that this is all a fictional recreation. But as it comes alive around you, you find yourself paying attention to your environment in ways you haven’t done in years.
The story of leadership is often told through the lens of a single leader and a singular act -- Martin Luther King rallying crowds at the Lincoln Memorial; Eleanor Roosevelt leading the creation of the declaration on human rights; Henry Kissinger setting foot in Beijing.
Reframing a problem helps you see it as an opportunity, and Seelig offers three techniques for finding innovative solutions:
1. Rethink The Question
Start by questioning the question you’re asking in the first place, says Seelig. "Your answer is baked into your question," she says.
Before you start brainstorming, Seelig suggests you start "frame-storming": brainstorming around the question you will pose to find solutions. For example, if you’re asking, "How should we plan a birthday party for David?" you’re assuming it’s a party. If you change your question to, "How can we make David’s day memorable?" or "How can we make David’s day special?" you will find different sets of solutions.
Have you ever felt you were losing your way? Cut adrift on a raging sea? I know I have. When I was reaching the top of Honeywell, I was working 24/7. Having succeeded in turning around a series of troubled businesses, I was tasked with even more turnarounds.
You'll worry less about day-to-day problems and focus on what is most important. As you become more mindful, you will be a more effective, successful and fulfilled leader. That's worth twenty minutes a day, isn't it?
There was a time when leaders thought their role was to exert power over others. No longer. Today's best leaders recognize their leadership is most effective when they empower others to step up and lead.
After in-depth interviews with 170 world leaders and classroom discussions with 6,000 executives and MBAs in Authentic Leadership Development (ALD) at Harvard Business School, we've learned three essential steps to building your self-awareness.
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