When we’re asked to think of great leaders, our mind will typically turn to the great orators, the larger than life public figures, or those obscured behind a battalion of microphones during some significant public or corporate event.
When we’re asked to think of those leaders in our life that have really made a difference for us. That have positively changed us. Those that we willingly follow. Those that we truly trust and respect. There’s seldom an overlap between the great leaders in our mind and those that have made a personal difference to us. The Venn Diagram of the two stares back at us like a pair of John Lennon’s specs.
Leadership is not a Public Act.
Leaders build personal connections.
Leaders work for people, not themselves. They put the others first. They’re selfless.
Leaders make you feel safe. They care for you.
Leaders take responsibility.
People like this, the leaders, rarely do this work in public. Indeed, leadership may often go unseen, the selfless act. It is intent that matters, leaders seeking to give are more productive than those seeking benefit. If there is no intent to benefit, it is seldom necessary to be seen to be giving.
In the tumult of our current Australian Election, the most public of “leadership” decisions, I assert there are few leaders. The two major political parties are bidding, in their words, to manage the country, with little on view to ascribe to true leadership. As Seth Godin’s observed:
Managers want authority. Leaders take responsibility.
It’s fair to say that few of our politicians are willing to take responsibility if at all possible, but they’ll take all the authority they can get.
Here’s a simple leadership test: Who is this person working for? Are they working for themselves or for the others? Only the latter is a leader.
This is not a public act.