In Wednesday’s National Post (Toronto), an article discusses (laments?) the “leadership” qualities of the various federal party leaders (article here).
“Canadians have made it very clear that they’re totally disgusted and sick of politics as usual. And it’s bizarre to me that none of them have woken up and is trying to address that disgust by acting differently,” he said [Duff Conacher, co-ordinator of the non-partisan group Democracy Watch]. “We’ve seen all of them make contradictory statements, vague promises and dodge questions. I don’t know why they don’t understand that they will never be looked upon as leaders as long as they act that way.”
In my view, leadership starts with the self, a willingness not only to dream a big vision that changes, that impacts the status-quo of one’s environment, but even more directly,the willingness and effectiveness to do whatever it takes to transform that vision into reality.
Leadership is more than ideas, it is action. And it is quantifiable and definable through the tangible change made in one’s environment.
The bolder the action, the more I impact my environment, the more others notice. They may or may not “like” the changes I am creating, and they may or may not line up behind me and follow me.
Leadership is not a popularity contest. It has nothing to do with my rank, title, position or experience.
And that’s what disappoints me so about politics, whether in Canada or the US or even the local school board. Stop telling me what you can do, and start showing me what you have done.
The “stuff” of leadership is very tangible in my view. It comes down to four dimensions:
- Clarity of vision: What is the change I am making in my status-quo? Why is it important?
- Boldness of action: What tangible result am I creating right now to create the vision I want?
- Mastery of influence: How am I unleashing the passion in my environment to further my vision?
- Strength of legacy: How is my vision making the world a better place for all?
These are the elements I am looking for when I assess a leader’s effectiveness.
And it can start with me, in my own environment.
Vision PLUS Action. That’s the real stuff of leadership.