When leadership gets personal

Prompted by a recent discussion with a group of my clients, this new series of  posts is about leadership.  It’s a word that has come up in many conversations and contexts recently and when something shows up that consistently I often find it has a meaning that is timely for me to explore personally too, so I thought I would share my thoughts and findings here with you.

Being a LEADER

My own experience of leadership, prior to creating my coaching business, is as a leader in public service.  We emerge as leaders in different ways, and for me it was a personal development journey through various management positions – originally as a clinician, and then moving into a series of increasingly complex change management projects in various project management or general management job roles.

During that 20+ year journey I have worked with many dedicated and talented people, at all levels and across all health service disciplines, in some of the largest healthcare organisations in the UK.  I also have the privilege of serving as a Non-Executive Director in the Social Housing sector.  Over the years, I have met literally hundreds of people who, in various ways, taught me what leadership is, and what it isn’t.  Sometimes I learned from people who absolutely role modelled excellence in leadership.  I perhaps learned even more from people who absolutely didn’t.

In my experience, public service is an interesting landscape in which to learn about leadership.  So many different professionals, with a wide range of motivations, beliefs and values, can be a volatile mix when anything other than the client or patient is placed at the heart of the organisational agenda.  The bigger the organisation, the bigger the part that power and politics play.  Control and authority become increasingly essential to delivering at least the organisation’s statutory responsibilities, to say nothing of the wider political, organisational and professional agenda(s).

It would be so easy, at this point, to take a little (or probably quite enormous) detour into the world of organisational leadership.  To forget that that’s not what I do anymore.  Well, not directly anyway.  These days I get to experience that more vicariously, through the experience of my clients who serve their organisations in complex leadership roles.

BEING a Leader

You see, what I love even more than supporting people through the challenges and complexities of organisational leadership is the privilege of serving those who are ready to make leadership personal.  And yet, I’ve perhaps only recently recognised that that is exactly what I do.  When I talk to people about what I do and the sort of clients I work with, I’ve used all sorts of labels and language over the last 18 months.  But really it can be summed up in those two words.

Personal.

Leadership.

Peter Drucker (renowned management expert & educator), is reputed to have said that personal leadership is the only leadership that’s going to matter in the 21st century.  As I listen to the news in the background as I write, it seems to me he was absolutely right.

Personal leadership is all about you.  And Me.  It’s about you and me – being at our absolute best, the very top of our game.

Personal leadership is just that.  It’s personal.  It’s powerful.  It’s all about who we are.  It’s about BEING unstoppable in the best possible way.  Leading ourselves from the inside out…. knowing who we need to be in order to be our best.

Personal leadership is about taking responsibility – being the CEO of our business, and our life.  I recently heard Boris Becker being asked what was at the heart of Novak Djokovic’s success, not just his grand slam and masters tally, but his longevity as the World No 1 in men’s tennis.  Boris replied that Novak had stepped up to become the CEO of Djokovic.Incorporated.  I loved that!  Only a couple of weeks previously one of my clients had thanked me for helping her to do the same in her business – making that transition from business owner to truly being CEO of her business and her destiny.

So that’s going to be my focus of this next series of blog posts.  Personal leadership.  What it means for you and me.

Leadership starts with us.

Ready?

 

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9 thoughts on “When leadership gets personal

  1. I often wonder are true leaders born or is it something they learn and “grow” into from watching others?
    well done on blogging again and “leading from the inside out” now be unstoppable indeed 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for your encouragement, Joan. That’s a question I hear often and in many ways it comes down to our definition of leadership. I guess my personal belief that we are all wonderfully resourceful as human beings means I am more interested in the skills of leadership than the label of leader – we can definitely learn and grow the skills, if we choose!

    1. My experience is that not everyone chooses to be the CEO though! Personal leadership is about taking personal responsibility and lots of people find that hard. Glad you enjoyed the post Donnah – thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

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