Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Leadership, Even When No One is Watching

I’ve just returned from what could best be described as a leadership conference, where people from Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest of the United States met for 3 days to discuss a multitude of leadership issues – to expand our thinking, challenge our preconceived notions of what it means to be an effective leader, and in the process, develop ourselves to be better leaders as a result.

This conference wasn’t singularly about leadership as it applies to business, and as such, there were leaders in the room from every walk of life, with a wide variety of interests, but all of us were clearly focused on the common traits of great leaders, and what it takes to lead a life committed to leadership, and in doing so, to change the world, one person at a time.

One of the themes that we spent some time on over the weekend struck a particular chord with me.

We’ve all heard the expression; “do the right thing, even when no one is watching,” in one setting or another at some point in our lives, but what we spent some time talking about this weekend was the need to “be the great leader that you are, (or are aspiring to be), even when no one is watching.”

You might think that the leap from “doing the right thing even when no one is watching” to “being the great leader that you are, even when no one is watching,” is not a leap at all, but a given.  Surely, someone who is committed to being a great leader would consistently do the right thing, even when no one is watching, but what I’m asking you to ask yourself, as we did this weekend, is; are you being the great leader that you are, in every facet of your life, all of the time?

As an example, do you demonstrate your commitment to leadership, and what it means to be a great leader, to your children?  Do they know you as a great leader?

Take the morality out of what you’re thinking right now, this isn’t about right and wrong and teaching your children the important differences.  

THIS, is about who you are, who you are being in life, and how you choose to approach your life.  Are you standing as a leader in your life, or, like many people, are there times when you turn your leadership on and off, choosing instead at times to take a back seat, let life unfold and “see how it goes,” leaving it instead for others to take the lead.

I found it to be an interesting question, one worth spending some time on, and I encourage you to do the same.

For me, it brought a whole new meaning to the expression; leading by example.

Leadership is a life-long learning and the path to mastery lies in the questions and our ability to be open to experience new things, challenge ourselves, and allow ourselves to be challenged by others, and in the process to continue to learn and grow.

What kind of leader are you, even when no one is watching?

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