LEADERSHIP IS PERSONAL, LEADERSHIP IS HARD WORK
June 2019, Friesen Press will launch my book titled “Humanizing Leadership”, sub title : Reflection Fuels, People Matter, Relations Make The Difference.
What makes the book and this “blog” which is fashioned after the book different is the authenticity of the narrative as demonstrated through the voice of experience and the examples, which establish trust with the reader. It offers a 50 foot “balcony view” of the issues confronting leaders. This perspective is unusual, as is the candour and lack of academic equivocation.
Given you are visiting this “blog”, I assume the following: You are interested in leadership; you have read countless words about leadership, and perhaps attended a course or conference on the topic, and you are a leader. There’s something you need to know: Most leadership books, leadership conferences, and workshops gloss over (or avoid altogether) the fact that leadership is personal, very hard work, and on everyone’s mind!
Pick up the newspaper, watch the daily news, search the internet; leadership (or lack thereof) is a hot topic everywhere. Today, political, private, and public-sector leadership is on everyone’s mind and has never played a more prominent role in international, national, and local conversations. Private-sector leaders are often seen as financially motivated personally―some to the point of being corrupt. Public-sector leaders are often portrayed as incompetent. Levels of trust in politicians and government are constantly under public and media scrutiny. Ideological debates about organizations often dominate newspaper pages, while concrete and proven strategies for improving organizational performance receive little or no attention. Leaders visit renowned centers of excellence around the world and return full of enthusiasm for change. Yet many organizational terrains are extremely rigid and presided over by powerful top-down players―a landscape where every inch of organizational boundary space is hotly contested.
We have library shelves stacked with research studies, books, articles, and papers on organizational leadership and transformation, and inboxes with course and workshop materials from the leadership development and transformation industry. We have boardrooms with transformative ideas. We have leadership-change conferences, and symposiums filled with brilliant minds. We receive improvement insights from front-line workers and customer experiences, sign contracts with consultants for analysis, and have tools to improve organizational performance. So, why is it so difficult to have performance improvement, in spite of the availability of all this firepower, requisite skills, influence, and determination?
What makes leadership personal and hard work isn’t the theoretical; it’s the practical. It’s not about knowing what to say or do. It’s about whether you’re willing to experience the discomfort, risk, and uncertainty of saying or doing it. To quote Aristotle, “To avoid discomfort, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”