I was extremely hesitant to get started on this assignment, largely because I cannot honestly say that my idea of leadership is moulded by any specific quote – I’m not the type of person who remembers quotes (unless it’s for an exam). In writing this, I hope to stay away from Googling “Leadership Quotes” or “Famous Leadership Quote”, but rather to speak about leadership in the ways that I’ve been inspired. Though, I may employ the all-knowing Google to help support my points.
When I think of leadership and the work that I have done I immediately think of a couple instances. Three of these are:
- Adele and the authenticity that she reveals in here interviews and concerts
- The book the “Kite Runner”
- Queen Elizabeth II
Therefore in considering what leadership means to me I will consider the following:
- Repentance, Understanding and Reflection
“In leadership being genuine implies that we are embodying our true selves into our leadership role.”
- Steve Robinson, CEO and Founder, Si Consulting Ltd
“No man is free who is not master of himself”
The underlying notion is that to become a leader or to truly accept and comprehend your capabilities you MUST be authentic. How can we do the work we do without truly understanding ourselves? We must understand our strengths, our weaknesses, and our own situation before we can truly hope to lead or achieve anything through leadership.
”Until you truly know yourself, strengths and weaknesses, know what you want to do and why you want to do it, you cannot succeed in any but the most superficial sense of the word”
– James Kouzes, Barry Posner
For anyone who has seen an Adele concert I encourage you to have a look at her first concert at the Royal Albert Hall – I encourage you to look at her interactions with her audience and her band members. Isn’t it positively refreshing to see a ‘celebrity’ portray herself as a ‘regular’ human being? It definitely is to me. Authenticity allows us to connect to the people around us because we are not portraying an image of what we think we ought to be – we are demonstrating who we actually are. It is only upon realising the need to be authentic that you recognise the people in your life that are meant to support and uplift you. It is only upon realising the need to be authentic that you are able to truly inspire people to lead - themselves and others.
I always remember the first time I read the book “Kite Runner” by author Khaled Hosseini. The most famous quote from the book “For you a thousand times over” always stuck with me. It showed a time when someone who may not have previously noticed had finally understood the importance of another person and their struggles. The simple quote speaks volumes as it highlights the importance of reflection, understanding and repentance.
“The unexamined life is not worth living”
It is only through constant reflection – reflection on your behaviours, your interactions, and your idle mind – that you can truly hope to become a leader. You’ll notice that this ties in with the first point of “authenticity”. We must reflect in order to achieve the authenticity that is so important as we journey to be the best form of ourselves. After all we are really only on a journey of truly trying to express ourselves without condemnation.
“Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.”
– H.G. Wells
Adaptation has to be one of the most crucial skills especially in a fast-paced world that’s more connected than ever before. Inspiration is drawn from Queen Elizabeth II due to her ability to maintain the importance of tradition, but recognise the need to adapt and accommodate an informed population. Founding my own NGO helped me to appreciate and understand the significance of sticking to what you believe, but facilitating the opinions of others. Those royally famous pursed lips became far more relatable. Nonetheless, I am of the firm belief that becoming adaptable and understanding that you need to adapt sets the stage for improvement and collaboration, which in turn potentially magnifies the effect of the work being done.
In closing, I would suggest that leadership is not limited to any one ‘special’ person that happens to become recognised. Leadership is available to any person who is able to recognise their authentic self, understand those around them, and adapt in a changing world. Leaders, in my opinion, understand their intrinsic abilities and work with those around them to help them recognise their own value.
PS: We can learn a thing or two from monkeys – playful, mischievous, clever and caring!