Every Summer I have the pleasure to teach at the worlds elite Student Leadership Conference. It has become evident that Leadership training requires a new approach.
There is a Leader in all of us. Leadership CAN be learned. We cannot, however, teach Leadership in the same fashion we would economics. There is not an all applicable system that we can plug people into and spit them out as Presidential. Leadership requires courage more than process. How can we teach courage?
The Leadership Challenge
The new challenge we face in Leadership is debunking the dictator-driven operating system made popular by yesterdays micro-managers. In the same manner that selling is more about listening than talking; Leadership is an act of servitude.
A few elements to implement:
- Actions Speak Louder Than Words: The moment you corrupt your advice through disingenuous actions you have lost the privilege of influence.
- Rally Around A Cause: There must be a common mission that everyone who serves the organization genuinely believes in.
- Be Constructively Disruptive: You are allowed to challenge any idea as long as you have a better one.
- Pass The Torch: Every Leaders goal for each of their team members should be to help them advance beyond their current role.
- There IS Crying in Business: In the immortal words the great Jimmy Valvano, "be willing to be moved to tears (every day)".
A Little Commonsense
It is not the content but the people who teach it. It is not the process but the people with whom you share it.
You can game plan and systematize all day long, but if your teachers do not genuinely believe in what they are preaching, no one will follow. Through the process we develop kinship.... human connection drives us forward. Put anyone in a classroom with a bunch of strangers and their greatest accomplishment will come not from passing a test but from passing along their goodwill.
An Inability To Accept Injustice
We are all moved by the fight for Civil Rights. Every great revolution starts with one person who identifies a wrong and is no longer willing to accept that way of living.
Reflect on your moments of courage.... my guess is that each of them began with your inability to accept the ignorance of others dismissed as tradition.
We can not stand by and allow naivety to be dismissed as progress.
No organization has "we've always done it this way" as a core value.
Perhaps our greatest oversight is in pretending that Leadership is an extroverts role. Every point of progress has been cultivated by someone who could not sit on their hands and allow walking in circles to be dismissed as determination.
Are you willing to accept the way things have always been?
Do you have a better idea?
What are you going to do about it?
Don't Forget to Remember!