Why Leadership Is A Relationship

12 thoughts to a canvas of life that matters

It was 4:00AM, the hour between deep sleep and full awareness. And I was in neither. In that unfocused state, a thought crossed my mind. Which one word would describe leadership? A split second later, relationship flashed in my mind’s darkness. I had been learning that questions are powerful motivators to meaningfully develop myself.

In an era where access to information and knowledge is a few keystrokes away, I am astounded by how we deeply struggle with what leadership is. Could it be a factor of our education, socialization or ignorance? Perhaps, we could find some bearing in this:

“We cling to hierarchies because our place in a hierarchy is, rightly or wrongly, a major indicator of our social worth.” ~ Harold J. Leavitt

Instead of using hierarchy as an indicator of our social wealth, why not embrace deep relationship to grow our social capital? Here are twelve reasons why I believe leadership is a relationship. Embrace them and thrive!

  1. Real — Leadership is about engaging with people. They just don’t want to hear fluffy stories about how you can transform their lives. They want to experience your authenticity. It is the genuine, unadulterated version of yourself that wins at leadership.
  2. Evident — Like a light, leadership is visible. You don’t have to talk about it. People can see it and are attracted to it. When people follow you of their own free will, then you are a leader. Anything else other than this, people follow you only for what you have: position, money or clout.
  3. Live — Leaders do not dwell in the corner office. You live in the front-line, in the trenches where the rough-and-dirty takes place. Your finger feels the pulse of the business or community that you serve. For this reason, people still trust you to lead them even during times of weakness or self-doubt.
  4. Action — Leadership is about uplifting others. You shepherd or inspire people toward the light of a desired future. It may be to keep the tempo going to help others row the boat as one. The past successes or failures act as lessons to help you on your current mission. But don’t to rest on your laurels for too long.
  5. Trustworthy — Leadership is building trust in others and self. You are dependable. People can count on you to protect, build, grow and call them out when they are wrong.
  6. Involving — You cannot be a leader and walk alone. “He who thinks he leads, but has no followers, is only taking a walk.” ~John C. Maxwell. When you involve people, they are able to understand what is expected of them! They know how to behave, respond and which action to take.
  7. Ownership — Leadership is accountable. It is about being genuine and open at all times. You clearly communicate your expectations to others. You own your shortcomings and missteps as much as your success or bragging rights.
  8. Nimble — Leaders adapt to situations instead of allowing change to manage them. You anticipate, walk ahead and think differently. And above all, leadership predominantly responds rather than reacts to situation. Response is driven calculated thought and action that comes from within you. Reaction is governed by external forces that you have no control of.
  9. Sharing — Leaders don’t hog the limelight. They share it with their followers. This makes it easier to deal with moments of low self-esteem or failure. A problem shared is a problem halved.
  10. Humble — Leadership is serving… nothing more, nothing less. You are not self-seeking. You fully embrace that leadership is a mindset and not a position. Leadership isn’t a privilege to pursue. It is a status only earned from and bestowed on you by your followers.
  11. Inspiring — Leadership helps people to overcome hurdles that limit their potential. In the process, you also get inspired to equip yourself with the relevant knowledge and skills to serve them better. As they grow, you grow.
  12. Purpose — This is about having an intimate appreciation of your why. Leadership is about know your calling and not being just driven by what you own. Rather, you jealously embrace the stewardship of what is in you.

Remember what Dwight Eisenhower said: “You don’t lead by hitting people over the head — that’s assault, not leadership.”

Why not make this list work for you by working on one character at a time? It can be one every day, week or month. Once you are done with number 12, go back to the beginning. Leadership is built everyday, not in a day.

Where does your leadership stand today?


photo: unsplash