I have been spending a lot of time lately thinking about what a good leader is and particularly what makes me a good leader. Part of this pensiveness is coming from the class I am taking this term. It is on leadership development and though not what I expected the course to be some of the readings and discussion are interesting to ponder. The remainder of the exploration is coming from starting the new business. Deciding to coach others has been an emotional journey. While it is what I do every day with businesses, there was still that part of me that struggled with being “good enough” to have people pay me to do one-on-one coaching. I wrestled a lot with what makes me worthy.
Many years ago my boss said to me “when we get you in front of a client magic happens”. I agree. I have great abilities to move people out of their intertia and open to change. I can win over those others can’t. Figuring out why, though, has been a long process and I come to different answers at different times in my journey. Doing my class reading today I came to another answer. My magic is the ability to help people look up and consider dreaming again.
When I think about the great leaders in history; Martin Luther King, Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, they were living in terrible times. People were hurting, depressed, needy and living without. Yet these men were able to rally their cause against all the odds. They got people to look up.
Too often we get mired down in the heaviness of the here and now and lose sight of the future, or that a future even exists. It is very hard when you are struggling not to get tunnel vision on your immediate burdens and challenges and forget there can be a different outcome. When you have been in the same situation for too long it is so easy to become jaded and agree to the current as the inevitable. I see this every day with clients who have been frustrated and disillusioned for so long that they have just accepted their battles as part of the norm. They have lost hope of a better future and find ways to make the intolerable tolerable. They bury their heads, look down and trudge through. It is my job to relight that notion that a better future is possible. It is my job to remind them it is ok to dream for more. It is my job to get them to want to make change.
This difference in “line of sight” is what separates managers from leaders. A manager works in the eyes down world. They make sure that the here and now is taken care of. They ensure the status quo and equilibrium. A leader’s job is watching over the horizon and inspiring others to want to look forward also. The first step in sharing a vision is helping others to want to see at all.
I get it now. I get why I am worthy…I am really good at getting people to look up again!