The following are my thoughts and beliefs on leadership summarized into a "Leadership Manifesto".
Leadership is a talent. All people have some of this talent but in differing amounts. Thus every human being has the capacity for leadership and not all have the potential to be a Churchill, Gandhi or Mother Teresa.
Leadership development is experiential in nature. You will not develop your leadership potential by reading a book on leadership or attending a leadership conference any more than you can learn to swim by doing so. Being a leader does not mean having access to a toolkit of skills. Fundamentally, leadership is a feeling. To develop your leadership talent requires that you are in some leadership capacity...and...this does not mean in some sort of formal leadership role in an organizational hierarchy. It does being in a position in which you invest yourself, influence the future and take responsibility.
Leadership development is also experimental in nature. There is no one way of doing things, no sure fire process nor recipe book on how to be a better leader. Developing your leadership talent requires that you take risks, experiment and learn from the results of those experiments. To learn is to grow, to change and to adapt. It is also about failing and building resilience and confidence in spite of those failures.
Leadership is personal. It is about understanding who you are, accepting that and being that in a consistent manner. How other people show up as leaders is interesting but not necessarily relevant to who you are as a leader. To grow the leader, you must grow as a person.
Leadership is about influence. It is about consistently showing up in an authentic way that creates trust, ensures safety and inspires profound commitment. It can not be "bought" with pay or perquisites. It is distinct from "power" and "authority". It is not about coercion, threat or manipulation. Being a leader means personally investing so deeply in something with an uncertain outcome that it inspires others to contribute who they are to the process.
The currency of influence and thus leadership is credibility. Credibility is accumulated through one's character, often defined as the product of both integrity and intent. It is also accumulated through competence, often seen as the product of both capability and results. Stephen Covey Jr. wrote a book called "The Speed of Trust" which provides additional insight on this model.
The biggest leadership opportunity available to humanity is not to find the next "superstar" leader, but rather to cultivate the innate leadership talent present in us all. It is by discovering, developing and deploying the leadership potential of all of humanity that the biggest most positive change in the world will be realised.
The path to realising more of the latent leadership talent in all people is to provide them with the foundation, opportunity and support to develop this talent to its full potential. The foundation is formed by empowering people to realise that by knowing who they are, accepting who they are and being who they are will result in profound personal authenticity and authentic self confidence. The confidence to lead.
With that confidence, people can chart a path for themselves and others to make their biggest and best contribution in the world, enrolling other like minded leaders to accomplish more than any of them in isolation would be capable of achieving. Creating a desired future, rather than reacting to an unpredictable present.
On the leadership path, the trials and tribulations, errors and failures, successes and achievements all require a mindfulness to ensure that the lessons of our life's journey are well understood, embraced and reflected in the growth of our leadership capacity.
This is what I believe. This is what inspires me. This is what causes me to feel a great sense of hope for our collective future. My role is to support, encourage, champion and coach as many people as possible in discovering, developing and deploying their innate leadership talent in support of creating a better world.