Leadership has got a bad press in so many circles.

Maybe that is because of the many bad examples we come across, especially in the world of politics. That is often the case in the Indian subcontinent where the Hindi word for leader (neta) is used interchangeably with the word for politician. I don’t think there is much difference with this sentiment in the West.

Maybe also because it sounds so grandiose and pompous – me a leader? Surely not! It sounds so arrogant and self-promoting to go around talking of yourself as a leader.

And yet I would challenge you that leadership, in its most fundamental sense, is crucial to whatever we seek to do and achieve, be that on a personal micro level or a macro level.

If we think of leadership fundamentally as being about influence, then we can extend that across to how do I influence and lead myself and how do I lead and influence others.

It literally becomes an extension, using that paradigm, of the two greatest commandments – loving God and loving my neighbour. How do I influence and lead myself to love God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength and how do I influence and lead myself to love my neighbour as myself?

This was brought home to me by the writings of Dee Hock, founder and CEO Emeritus of Visa (yes that’s the credit card company!). He asserts that as much as 50% of a leader’s time should be focused on leading and managing oneself!

So in that sense leadership is primarily about me growing and developing as a human being. Physical growth is automatic, but growing in character and capabilities (leadership qualities) has to be intentional.

Leadership, in its essence,  is really an inside job that can lead to significant outside results.

So why am I passionate about leadership?

It has been a dawning realisation over the years how to create something of lasting value it is essential to draw in and involve others. And life has so much more potential to be filling and fun if we involve others. I first lead myself to change and then I draw in others to the journey.

I love the following quotes by leadership consultant, Steve Radcliffe:

“Leadership is your ability to be at your best, in touch with what you care about and doing something about it.”

“The journey as a leader  (rather than copying anybody else) is about being the best you can be to draw the best out of others to make a difference.”

“In an organisation, leadership is the ingredient in the pot that draws out the best of all the other ingredients.”

“Leadership can either lift people’s lives or bring them down.”

So rather than working with the paradigm that everybody can be a leader it is more accurate to say everybody is a leader – the question is what kind of leader are they?

In other words we all influence one another, whether we recognise it or not.

So seeing yourself as a leader has the potential to make a huge positive difference in your own life and the lives of those around you.

What do you think?

How do you view leadership?
How could you see yourself as a leader?