Jul 4, 2011

Our Every Day Leadership. How Do We Show It ?

Have you ever walked around thinking ''Man, I feel like a leader!''?

Can't remember (or admit?) I did, even when I had 800 people ''under'' me, or exceeding targets nobody else could. Although it made me happy, or proud.

It just dawned on me that I never did anything big while thinking, or worrying about ''being a leader.''

Today this question came to mind:

''When/How do I demonstrate leadership in every day's life, in every day's words?''

''Forget all definitions, research, leadership quotes. What does leadership feels like to you?'', I asked myself.

Definitely not being ''better'', ''prettier'' or ''earning more'' than everyone.

It is nearly impossible to erase all I read, learned or thought about leadership, all research, results or beliefs, but I'll try not to speak as business, management or leadership consultant.

I'll try to think of what I do in every day life, that might let me feel (anything) like a leader?

Few situations came to mind, and one common factor was - trying to be seen as a leader was the last thing on my mind.

This is what every day leadership looked like to me:

1. When I acted like who I was...from my convictions, core values, my best-self.

Thinking your thoughts, saying your words, living your values (setting your boundaries) must be one of the most difficult missions in life that doesn't seem to pay off easily.

Leaders do not chose always an easy way. Think courage, sacrifice, determination, uniqueness...Practice it. Defend it.

2. When others turned to me for help, understanding, or comfort (or all three) and left better off than when they came to me.

Is this world full of people who care, are able and willing to hear, understand, and help?

Are you one of them? Congratulations, you stand out!

3. When I thought of the ways I could help someone/something, and did it on my own initiative, without anyone asking.

Same as no. 2 just some more points due to own initiative.

''What can I do, How can I help'' attitude (and not only in salesy/marketing way I am so tired of) are probably what we can benefit more of, in recession, and any other times.

4. When I made one person for even one minute feel like this world is not such a bad place. Even if that person was myself!

What can I tell you about this one that you don't already know...Tough job!

Hey, no need for a leader for easy jobs. This (as everything else) is easier said than done.

So many bad news around, how do you still convince yourself it's all worth it? How do you deal with it?

5. When I found the courage to overcome fear of failure (or success), and took action to try whatever idea was going through my mind.

This did not work out every time, but am getting better. Sometimes I used a mentor, coach, book, role-model for motivation, or wanted something desperately enough that I just had to overcome massive fear, anxiety or stress and go for it.

6. When I reacted not just in my own interest. Especially when protected weaker or less fortunate, without feeling superior, or expecting anything in return.

This is when I felt truly ALIVE, brimming with purpose and pride, grateful to feel like making a difference in this world.

Isn't that awesome, rare feeling?

7. When I let myself dream a little. When I did not laugh at someone else dreaming a little. When we dreamed together.

Most of these dreams did not materialize, but I tell myself that is the price of being a leader. I risked, I tried, I cried, and I still have (new) dreams.

Your dream is unique, investment is high, and guarantees...? None! As long as we think more about guarantees, things will stay where they are forever.

A ''strategy'' guy once tried to offend me saying: ''Enjoy your dream world!''

But I refused to feel offended. I learned that dreams motivate better than ''strategies.''

Having a dream, sharing it, or reaching for it is not the worst you can do as a leader, is it?

What makes you feel as a leader? When was the time you felt like it, or you think you could feel like that?

Never mind if that is not an example from work/business. We bring ''our-every-day-selves'' to work, desk, office, or corner office.

It is still - just us, and our every day leadership, only within different walls' colors.

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  1. Good post, Liliana.
    I think we show our everyday leadership, the same way we should share our every day faith...actually walking in what we say we are and what we represent; when we do justice, demonstrate love, and give mercy.

  2. Thank you Martina, and shall I say ''Happy 4th July?''

  3. The beauty of genuinely good leadership is that 'we' do NOT show it

  4. Ioannis GousgounisJuly 5, 2011 at 11:40 PM

    By continuously helping and supporting others to become (more) successful.

  5. Thanks for your comment Irma and Ioannis. I suppose these days we'll need to do more helping than ever, and not just for the ''show.''

  6. Very Well Said Irma, We should lead by example....

  7. Sharon LitchfieldJuly 12, 2011 at 12:42 AM

    Good leadership means you're teaching someone every day, mentoring and inspiring them to be and do better than they thought possible. Giving them the tools to succeed and granting autonomy when they show the motivation to "own" it.

  8. Joseph Mullin, MBA PrincipalJuly 12, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    A great number of points in the article thank you.
    I can think of one other important question for those that follow, "So how am I doing?" and then listen intently.
    Unfortunately in most leadership today these are not practiced. The idea of being responsible for those under you has been lost in the quest for shareholder equity. This is a shame for the profit realization could be higher if the people in charge of companies practiced leadership.
    There is an opportunity cost for not being a real leader.

  9. Irma Veronika MarlaJuly 12, 2011 at 12:19 PM

    In India, "leader" is often confused with "hero", and it seems that everyone just wants to admire and worship "heroes", not matter the costs! I feel compelled to quote from Bertolt Brecht, The Life of Galileo Galilei, when Andrea says (translated from German by me) "Blesses the country which has such heroes." - And Galileo answers: "Blessed the country whoch doesn't need heroes!" We should all work for an India where we don't need "Heroes", but good leaders with genuine abilities.
    More of this can be found in our book Marla/Taori: Misery of Leadership - A Holistic Approach to Good Leadership, authorspress, New Delhi, 2011

  10. Thank you all for today's comments. Each one makes me think a little more.
    I guess each leader IS (somewhat) a hero in his/her people's eyes. He is an ''example'' to many, I agree.
    This does not mean we blindly keep worshiping the guy (lady), while they ''think profit'' only, although I am not against profit, at least not in business!
    Yes, we also want to feel inspired, get tools, autonomy, feel that they care about what we have to say, motivate us to be better etc.
    Come to think of it, leadership role is so demanding, I wonder sometimes how we are even trying to meet that challenge!

  11. B.RAVINDRANATH GUPTAJuly 12, 2011 at 8:28 PM

    Leadership is all about commanding respect and not demanding it. Leader is somebody who is a sort of a role model whom everybody wants to emulate. Timely decision making, taking accountability for your decisions, Effective delegation, Avoiding micromanagement, promoting teamwork, discouraging backbiting, being unbiased i,e not resorting to favouritism, lauding in public and chiding in private etc are what will go a long way in winning the hearts of your team who will then do anything for you. Some poor leaders try to keep the team always under pressure which should be a total taboo. And yes, the team should feel that your every interaction with them helps them in taking something new. Moreover, you cannot be nice to everybody all the time, be strict wherever necessary otherwise you would lose control..........


    Through genuine committment, exemplary behaviour and not being overbearing

  13. Thanks for more comments and examples of what you see, what works and what doesn't. Overbearing is not what I enjoy either.
    We will not confuse being nice with being hopeless for business, or even having to ''demand'' respect.
    I agree with this point, and wrote an article ''Can You Be a VP Of Nokia Or Anything If You Are Nice'' where you can see more about my experience of being ''nice'', if this is what you would like to check out.
    The link is here:
    best regards!

  14. When I do something that is right simple because it is right, but not always popular, I feel like a leader. I was taught it is always good to do your best; and that trouble is part of life and so you might as well endure trouble for doing the right things.

  15. Sounds great Alex, especially the part of not always going for the most popular solution or an easy way out. Thank you!


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