Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Planting your flag.

I was talking with an accomplished young leader yesterday about leadership philosophy when we slipped into the following conversation:

Him:  "I agree with everything you say but I haven't had my leadership epiphany yet."

Me:   "What's a leadership epiphany?"

Him:  "To me it's when you realize how you're supposed to lead or what you're supposed to lead."

Me:   "Got it - for me it comes in stages.  It's not a single stroke of wisdom but more of a commitment to the next steps in your leadership evolution."

Him:  "Well - I haven't felt that either."

Me:  "You haven't felt it or you haven't put your self at risk to be accountable for any kind of real leadership impact?"

Him:  "I'm not sure when you say it that way."

Me:   "I suspect you haven't chosen to be fully committed to anything yet - you haven't had to alter how you lead to succeed to this point."

Him:   "But I am a leader at work, in the military, in my community....."

Me:  "Yes - but you haven't had your epiphany because you haven't chosen to plant your flag within any or all of the areas in a manner which inspires you.  You have decided what will make you proud to serve; you haven't decided what achievement would be fulfilling.  You are a leader - you just haven't touched your potential because you’re waiting for an epiphany.  You are at a personal plateau.  It's a natural part of growing as a leader."

Him:  "Hmmmm - what should I do?"

Me:  "Pick something that gets you excited, set a goal that will benefit others, and will help your leadership evolve in a meaningful way, and be totally committed to achieving the goal.  The process will help you start growing again."

Him:  "You're right - I could...."

Every leader reaches plateaus in their development.  If you feel stagnant - get help - society needs you to make a difference for yourself so you can make a difference for others.   Leaders must continually evolve to meet the complex demands of our world.

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