“If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”?Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Isn’t that what great leadership does—teach us to long for the endless immensity of the future?
That is not nearly as easy as it sounds. It is about more than the typical prescription for “vision.”
Actually, more great leadership is what I long for these days. I long for strategic leaders who have oceans of imagination, energy, momentum, and resolve. You don’t see it so much as you feel it, and are swept in by it. It aligns with your values and calls your best self forward. It reminds you of what is possible—what you are capable of.
This is not about charisma, with its shallow veneer and gloss of likeability. It is about something much deeper—personal commitment.
Great leadership inspires words such as “legacy,” “visionary,” “influencer,” and “exemplar.” Most leaders have heard this calling, even if it has been reduced to a whisper.
And, yes, before all the scholars and trainers get agitated, there are excellent leadership techniques, skills, and capabilities. But those will only empower the underlying motivations.
Real leadership is about who you are, what you stand for, and what you dream about.
Most of us are capable of drawing on this, but we get sidetracked. We become disappointed, frustrated, and disillusioned. We sell our souls for job security, bonus, and promotions. We fear change and what it might mean for us. We lose our capacity to dare.
There is a way back.
The heart of a great leader keeps beating on the dream of making a difference.
We are waiting for you.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it
Are you also longing for leadership? Send this post to your leaders as encouragement and a vote of confidence. Post it in the cafeteria or in the gym, “share” it, “re-tweet” it—get the message out there. Make your own voice heard. Talk to your leadership; ask them what inspires them and what their greatest hopes are for the organization, for your community, for the economy. Ask how you can support them.
Are you a leader who has lost the spark? What first intrigued you? What did you think you might be able to do? What would you do if you had nothing to lose? What is the future that you want to live into? Please, re-discover the leader in you.
Are you an emerging leader? Yes, you are. Walk tall. Get up when you stumble. Be bold.
Are you a follower? Don’t wait. There is a leader in you. Be a voice of hope and determination. Lead discussions on future possibilities.
Above all, look to the future.