Growing the Leader in Us
By: Jim Clemmer
Jim Clemmer is an international keynote speaker, workshop leader, author, and president of The CLEMMER Group, a North American network of organization, team, and personal improvement consultants based in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. His other bestsellers include Firing on All Cylinders: The Service/Quality System for High-Powered Corporate Performance, and his most recent book, Growing the Distance: Timeless Principles for Personal, Career, and Family Success. His web site is http://www.clemmer.net/
For what we've discovered, and rediscovered, is that leadership isn't the
private reserve of a few charismatic men and women. It's a process ordinary
people use when they're bringing forth the best from themselves and others.
Liberate the leader in everyone, and extraordinary things happen.
Leadership is a verb, not a noun. Leadership is action, not a position.
Leadership is defined by what we do, not the role we are in. Some people
in "leadership roles" are excellent leaders. But too many are
bosses, "snoopervisors," technocrats, bureaucrats, managers,
commanders, chiefs, and the like. Conversely, many people who have no formal
leadership role are excellent leaders. In today's fast changing world,
we all need to be leaders.
-- James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, The Leadership Challenge: How to
Keep Getting Extraordinary Things Done in Organizations
To lead is to show the way by going in advance. To lead is to guide or
direct a course of action. To lead is to influence the behavior or opinion
of others. We all need to be leaders, regardless of our formal title or
role. This starts with inner self-leadership and moves outward to influence,
guide, support, and lead others. The process of becoming a leader is the
same as the process of becoming a highly effective human being. Leadership
development is personal development. Leadership ultimately shows itself
in what we do "out there." But it starts "in here.
It would be easy if we could all become leaders by following a simple set
of steps. But the journey of personal growth means finding our own way.
There are, however, six critical areas of personal development based on
timeless principles. The distance we need to grow along each leadership
dimension will differ for each of us, but defining and continually growing
along each of these paths is the way of the leader.
Strong leaders are well-rounded and constantly expanding their personal
leadership across these key areas:
The more the world changes, the more leadership principles stay the same.
Leadership principles are timeless. And they apply to all of us, no matter
what role we play in society or organizations.
- Choose Not to Lose - Whether we choose to focus on our problems or our possibilities is a
key leadership issue. When we are faced with obstacles and failure, those
who can overcome adversity and learn from their experiences, turning them
into opportunities, are the ones who will be truly successful.
- Focus and Context. THE CORE OF MY BEING: This is central to our growth along all the other
dimensions. Our Focus and Context is shaped by three vital questions: Where
am I going? (my vision); What do I believe in? (my principles and values)
and; Why do I exist? (my purpose or mission).
- Responsibility For Choices. IF IT'S TO BE, IT'S UP TO ME: Leadership means accepting responsibility
for our choices in life. Leaders realize that life accumulates, that choice
more than chance determines their circumstances. They refuse to succumb
to the "Victimitus Virus" ("it's all their fault" and
"there's nothing I can do").
- Authenticity. GETTING REAL: Leadership isn't just what we do, it's something that we
are, which then drives what we do. Genuine leadership comes from within.
It's authentic, and based on honesty, integrity, and trust. We must ring
true to ourselves by exploring our inner space, gathering feedback on our
personal behavior, and ensuring consistency with our stated values and
- Passion and Commitment. BEYOND NEAR-LIFE EXPERIENCES: Successful people are energized by a love
for what they do because it brings them ever closer to who they are. They
overcome apathy and cynicism, develop a burning commitment to their cause,
and with discipline achieve their dreams and desires.
- Spirit and Meaning. WITH ALL MY HEART AND SOUL: What is the purpose of our work? Of our lives?
Material success alone is not enough. Leaders seek within - and find something
more. In what is too often a mad dash from cradle to grave, we need to
take time - in work and life - to nourish our inner selves.
- Growing and Developing. FROM PHASE OF LIFE TO WAY OF LIFE: The popular goals of security, stability,
and predictability are deadly. The closer we get to these dangerous goals,
the more our growth is stunted. True and lasting security comes from constant
growth and development, based on regular R&R (reflection and renewal).
- Mobilizing and Energizing. PUTTING EMOTIONS IN MOTION: Leaders don't motivate with rewards and punishments.
Whether at home or in the workplace, they energize people to motivate themselves.
Highly effective leaders boost the energy of others with their passion
and appreciation. They engage people's hearts as well as their minds. They
get them involved and participating. They actively nurture the "being"
or culture of the group, not just the "doing".