People become leaders for different reasons, promotion, pay and many others. This article explores the idea that great leaders are those who see leadership as their purpose, a calling if you will.
Can leadership really be someone’s purpose?
We recognise when we see a child who has a sporting capability that ‘they’re a natural’. The child matures into the best football Player in the country, or the world, we say ‘it was meant to be’. Similarly, many doctors feel that their work is a vocation, a calling. All this points to them having a strong sense of purpose that motivates them to do what they do.
For me, even as a young child my ability to influence and lead others was evident. I was often a team captain or class representative. Some would say I was a ‘naturally born’ leader. Being a naturally born leader is not necessarily the same as being purposed for leadership. Those described as natural born leaders are often charismatic and persuasive. Being purposed for leadership is more than charisma or being a good communicator.
Purposed leaders have an innate sense of wanting to achieve a goal or purpose bigger than themselves to the benefit of others. It’s being relationally focused first and then choosing to lead for the benefit of those relationships.
How are Purposed leaders different?
Good leaders must have strong technical and communication skills. However, a purposed leader is different because they inspire, support and connect with others. Those purposed for leadership:
- see the vision or goal and inspire others, especially their team, to partner with them in fulfilling it;
- support (serve) others focusing on and believing in their team’s ability to achieve great things, drawing out that greatness within them;
- choose to connect with their team in an authentic way – building strong relationships of trust whereby the team know the leader has their good at heart.
I don’t feel purposed for leadership – can I still be a leader?
Of course you can!
People who are not purposed for leadership can and do become leaders. In-fact, anyone can aspire to and even achieve competency as a leader. However, there may be factors you should carefully consider.
Beware of Burnout
Human beings have the capacity to be multi-talented or gifted. With hard work and discipline we can achieve a lot. However, the degree to which we excel is dependent on our innate preferences, i.e. our motivational talents, which are connected to our personalities. Research, such as Gallup’s Strength finders has confirmed this. Strength Based Leadership found 3 keys to effective leadership. One of which was knowing your unique talents or strengths. When those talents are leveraged to allow you to inspire, support and connect you hit the jackpot as a leader. However, if your strengths do not lend themselves to doing this, you are more likely to experience emotional and physical burn-out.
Prepare to always be on the defensive
If you are a leader who puts the leadership position first, i.e. achieving that title, status and the goal as being front and centre, rather than serving to achieve a greater goal than yourself then you will struggle to inspire and connect with your team. Building high performing teams starts with Trust. If you pursue results and self-interested goals above the good of your team you will not build trust. Worse still you may find you will always be on the defensive as people will unlikely be ‘for you’ and may intentionally be waiting for your downfall.
Are you purposed for leadership?
To know if you’re purposed for leadership starts with a voyage of self-discovery. Knowing your passion, experience, and talents. Often we don’t realise it but there is a point of convergence of these factors. This is the sweet spot and is o a major clue to our life purpose. If you want to know more on this check my article The Secret to Success.
The other element is knowing that for you leadership is not a solo sport. By that I mean that you have an innate sense of wanting to achieve a goal or purpose bigger than yourself to the benefit of others – as Robert Greenleaf put it – it’s a focus on serving first and then a conscious choice to lead, i.e. servant leadership.
Self-discovery is not comfortable. Often we perceive ourselves differently to how others perceive us. Or we choose not to follow our passions and dreams for fear of failure or because it may be perceived as “silly”. However, there is great power in tapping into these factors, in being authentic leaders.
Such self-reflection and often vulnerability is not something everyone is comfortable with …so are you ready to take the plunge?
Yes – then contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org