Step Up and Lead

A recent leadership study in the United States in 2006 by the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, sponsored by US News & World Report, offered the following data:
* 70 % of Americans believe there is a leadership crisis today.
* Americans have lost confidence in leadership in five sectors: education, religion, business, Congress, and the executive branch. Only medical and military leadership have more than a moderate level of confidence.
* In no sector did confidence increase from last year.
* Only 38 % believe their leaders have high ethical standards.

Many see crisis here; I see opportunity. The leader you have been waiting for is you. You lead by your example. You lead by communicating clearly to others what needs to be done. Leadership is teaching and inspiring others to get it done. Leadership is influence. We begin to lead when we stop complaining about others and start inspiring them with our vision and our example.

Why should people follow you? Peter Drucker said in an interview with Forbes Magazine that Harry Truman had the charisma of a dead mackerel, but his staff practically worshipped him. It was because his integrity was impeccable. Harry always said what he meant and meant what he said. Yes meant yes. And no meant no. How's your integrity? Do you tell the truth (with compassion) or do you tell people what they want to hear?

It is time that those of us who are disappointed in leadership step up, and become leaders ourselves. It is time that those of us who are managing start leading. It is time that those of us who are leading listen to the people and ask ourselves: "What needs to be done now?"

How do you develop your leadership and the leadership of the people around you?
* Leadership seminars and classes.
* Executive Coaching
* Ongoing reflection and practice.
* Books.

I coached a supervisor who had difficulty with a more experienced colleague who was authoritarian in her approach. He felt victimized by her and felt the need to protect his people from her. Through coaching I helped him to see the motive behind her actions and to let go of blaming her. He realized that he had benefitted greatly from her manner in that he had become more organized, more efficient, and a better communicator. Furthermore, he realized that he had some her characteristics, too. His shift in perception allowed him to communicate with her as an equal, not as a victim. This made all the difference.

There is no professional relationship that cannot be transformed by changing your perception. When you change how you see someone, you give them someone new to respond to. Coaching, reflection, and practice help to elevate you to higher levels of functioning. If you are ready to step up to a higher level of leadership, there are plenty of resources out there to help you. There are coaches, seminars, books, and classes that will help to challenge you and shift your perceptions.

We can no longer afford to sit back and complain about leaders. The answer is always found within. We cannot change others, but others will be influenced when we change. Your organization, your family, your community, and the world needs you to step up and lead.

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