I was recently speaking at a conference regarding our vision as it applies to self, your business, and your community. This presentation was for middle level managers. As I completed my speaking engagement, I was approached by a middle aged man. This man looked tired, he spoke with a low voice. In fact, he spoke in almost a whisper and I had to lean toward him to make sure I heard what he said. His statement haunted me for days as I thought about how hard it must be to be in a leadership position and not know who you are as a leader.
“I don’t know who I am as a leader.”
This statement was repeated to me by multiple attendees throughout that day and even into the last day of the conference. Leaders came up to me and sheepishly stated this over and over. I did share in several different ways during the presentation that you must know who you are before you can successfully lead others. It must have hit home for some!
All of the great leaders that I know are absolutely certain about who they are. But what about the everyday leader?
- Not the leader you read about, but the one you have never heard of.
- The one who manages well, but doesn’t necessarily inspire.
- The leader that follows all the rules, but never takes a risk.
- The leader who no one talks about, but seems to last the longest.
It is an interesting thought and it really set my mind in motion. I have worked with several major agencies in the area of interview skills and how to simply get the job. I have given all kinds of advice to those striving to get to that next role in leadership, but what about the ones who are already there and are unsure of what to do next? Maybe they know how to do the job of leadership, but they don’t know how to be a leader.
This professional development was intended to be a focus on Curing-the-Culture of your business, but I never really got through the initial step, which is the culture of “self.” Understanding who you are as a leader is one of the most powerful, liberating, and peaceful places to be. It is what I call the “sweet spot” of leadership. It’s when you know you are in the right place, doing what you do best, and you know exactly what your purpose is.
So, what is your purpose as a leader? What is your vision? Not your company, school, church, or family’s vision, but what is your vision, your personal vision of who you are. What is that vision?
As I felt we had reached a spot of worry for some, I asked the participants to take two minutes to tell the person beside them who they are as a leader. The room went quiet and then some chatter began and there was some discussion. One person said that he had never been asked to tell who he is as a leader on the spot and, as a result, was speechless. It wasn’t an exercise that was meant to expose anything earth shattering, but maybe for a moment the earth did shake for a moment for some people. Maybe it was a personal wake-up call for some to figure out who they really are and for others it could have been a simple reminder.
I will leave you with two simple question: What are you known for in your field? When people talk about you as a leader, what do they say? If you do not know the answer, you need to figure it out and start screaming it to the roof tops! Lead well; Serve all!