As we approach the launch of The Heart of Leadership next week, I received an interesting question: How does the content of this book apply to a leader’s path? Honestly, I hadn’t given much thought to a leader’s path. But I’ve now begun to do so.
I’m familiar with some work that others have done on the question regarding a leader’s path. However, I’ve reached a different conclusion – or at least a different way to describe it. Here’s my summary at this point:
I’ve long believed the hardest part of leadership is self-leadership. If you and I can’t figure out how to do this well, leading others will be difficult at best, if not impossible.
So I guess the leaders’ path is a journey that begins with self-leadership and then moves to lead teams and perhaps organizations. However, I don’t think “path” is the right metaphor. Path implies a linear journey. One in which a point is crossed as you move to another. This is not my picture of a leader’s progression.
The picture that comes to mind for me is a spirograph. Most of you are too young to remember this fascinating toy. I had one as a child. It was a device that helped you create amazing images – like the one featured on this post. Here’s why this picture works for me to describe a leader’s journey…
It always comes back to the center.
The same is true for our leadership. It always comes back to our center – our heart. You can think of each of the points furtherest from the center of the image as a chance to lead. Maybe, we’ll have the opportunity to expand our influence and create an even larger more elaborate picture. Who knows, maybe we’ll even be given more colors to use. But even in those circumstances, the picture returns to the same pattern – our leadership influence revolves around who we are at our core – our heart.
If you’ve not been following this blog, you may not know the backstory for the book. Here’s a quick recap of the storyline and the big idea.
The book chronicles the journey of a young man named Blake. He’s been passed over for two promotions and his career is stuck. What Blake discovers is that leadership, at the highest level, has two components: your leadership skills and your leadership character. He learns, if your heart is not right, no one cares about your skills.
As Blake explores what leadership character looks like in action, he
discovers five attributes:
Hunger for Wisdom
Expect the Best
Respond with Courage
Think Others First
The good news for Blake, and all of us, is that we can cultivate and nurture these behaviors in our daily lives.
In short, that’s my answer to how The Heart of Leadership impacts our “path.” Our leadership not only starts with our heart, it is at the center of all we do. So, I guess that’s one reason I’m so passionate about this book. If you and I can cultivate the leadership character traits outlined in the book, we can literally change our heart and our leadership.
Where does the leader’s path begin and end? Everything you do as a leader is connected to your HEART.
Guard your heart![GLS_Shield]