We love leaders because the really great ones rally us around important ideas, concepts, and projects that make the world a better place for all. But let’s face it: we also love leaders because we can defer to them when difficult decisions need to be made and then blame them when things don’t go our way.
The point we’re missing, however, is that each of us is called to be a leader, and not only a leader, but a “respected” leader.
Becoming a leader has nothing to do with political connections, extraordinary abilities, or a “following” of frightened masses who are desperate for someone to take the reins. We are too conditioned by the world around us that bombards us with how helpless we’d be without our “leaders” in government, industry, and religion. We forget that we are leaders of our own lives due to the overarching influence of politicians, parents, clergy, intelligentsia, and CEO’s.
In fact, leadership has little to do with authority. We invest “leaders” with authority through tradition, laws, social norms, or mere convenience. After all, someone has to take final responsibility in daily situations of life. Yet most authority figures I know possess very little leadership ability.
So a leader is not someone who can tell others what to do? No! A true leader is first of all someone we respect for him or herself, not because of the office or position of authority they hold. We recognize true leadership in those who have extraordinary moral and ethical character, who recognize the needs of those dependent on them, and who meet those needs with a spirit of service, not profit.
True leaders assess the situation, consult with colleagues (especially those who tend to disagree with them), and determine how to meet the challenges before them. They will be curious, ask questions, gather information and opinions, and collaborate with others to formulate a plan that will deal with both “felt needs” and “real needs.”
“Felt needs” are those we sense in our bodies and minds. When a hurricane strikes, for example, the felt needs will be for shelter, clean food and water, infrastructure repair, medical treatment, and communication with family and friends.
“Real needs” go deeper. They are for such values as community support, effective and fair government, organization of rescue efforts, security, health, hope, spiritual solace, and a new way forward.
True leaders who focus solely on felt needs may begin a process of healing and restoration. Yet they also need to be motivated by the real needs of individuals and communities. A true leader will not neglect one for the other, or expect that simply getting the ball rolling will be sufficient in the long run. True leaders see the situation through to the end. True leaders have a reason rooted in the values of the community for acting.
Let’s not wait for someone to take the reins and control our existence. You have already been called to be the true leader of your life. What are your felt needs in this moment? What are the real needs that motivate you to live out your purpose? Are you committed to seeing your life through to the end, free of the encumbrances of materialism, to recognize a deeper reality: your unique spirit that has the power to make the world a better place for all?
© Copyright Michael Parise 2017
Portions excerpted from Michael’s book: Life Interrupted, Taking Charge After Everything Has Changed.
Since 1979 Michael has worked with individuals and groups to take full advantage interruptions and changes to balance responsibilities, simplify their lives, and find greater productivity and peace.
Want Michael to speak for your next event? Or hire him as your personal executive Life Coach to improve your relationships at home and at work? Call 813-444-9641 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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