There is no shortage of debate surrounding leadership when it comes to philosophy, style, definitional distinctions, nuances, complex theory, etc. That said, I believe most reasonable people would agree leadership is nothing if not personal. Leadership can represent a pursuit, discipline, practice, passion, calling, skill, competency, obligation, duty, compulsion, or even an obsession. I’ve known those who have worshiped at the alter of leadership as a religion, and a bit of reflection will reveal more than a few leadership revolutions dotting the historical timeline. My goal with today’s post is to challenge your thinking and your perceptions with regard to the state of leadership. So, my question is this - what’s next for leadership?
Think about this for a moment – with all our experience and all the research, with all the resources and all the focus on leadership, do you find it perplexing, if not altogether disturbing, that our world has never been more lacking for true leaders? Casual observation might lead you to conclude leadership has devolved rather than evolved. If you pay close attention to the media and world events, it would appear those serving themselves greatly outnumber those who place service above self. Here’s the thing - we’ll never all agree on what leadership is, or is not, but I think most reasonable people will concur it’s time for a change.
Why does all this matter? Because leadership matters…Whether through malice or naivete, those who abuse or tolerate the abuse of leadership place us all at risk…Poor leadership cripples businesses, ruins economies, destroys families, loses wars, and can bring the demise of nations. The demand for true leaders has never been greater - when society misunderstands the importance of leadership, and when the world inappropriately labels non-leaders as leaders we are all worse for the wear.
It’s time for less talk and more action. Leadership is not about the power and the accolades bestowed upon the leader, it’s about the betterment of those whom the leader serves. At its essence, leadership is about people. At its core, leadership is about improving the status quo, inspiring positive change, and challenging conventional thinking. As long as positional and philosophical arguments are more important than forward progress, as long as being right is esteemed above being vulnerable and open to new thought, as long as ego is elevated above empathy and compassion, as long as rhetoric holds more value than performance, and as long as we tolerate these things as acceptable behavior we will all suffer at the hands of poor leadership.
So, back to my original question – what’s next for leadership? I submit it’s time for a leadership movement that values engagement, open dialog, and candid discourse above personal gain. A movement is a cause greater than one’s self – it’s a populist groundswell rather than an elitist academic exercise. A movement is intentional, impassioned and biased toward action. A movement requires a vision that’s inclusive, collaborative, and has an orientation toward service. Most of all, a movement requires people committed to change.
So, where do we start? My belief is that we start by sluaghtering as many sacred cows as we can find. We dispense with the trivial, and we begin majoring in the majors. We bring the best leadership minds together - I’m not talking about like-minded thinkers, but big thinkers open to challenging what is considered “normal” with the goal of shattering outdated thinking. We dialog and debate, but most of all we listen, learn and act. We focus on what’s wrong with leadership and we fix it. This is where we start:
- I’m calling for those willing to participate to share what they feel is wrong with leadership in the comment section below. Share with us your insights on flawed principles, practice, theory, doctrine or logic. Be candid – be clear – be bold.
- I’ll select from the topics put forth in the comments below and create an agenda for a few live public debates that pierce at the heart of status quo with the hope of creating thought provoking discourse that leads to positive change.
If we get enough traction on meaningful topics we might just create a movement…Now’s your chance to express what you’ve been thinking in a venue that could make a difference – you in?