Go into your neighborhood bookstore, unless it closed…then go to Amazon or something. You could spend hours just reading through all the leadership titles. I’m not bagging out leadership books, they’re great resources. I’m continuously learning and reading. The point is, we have a tendency to make it only about the learning. By all means learn, just don’t make leadership only about learning.
You don’t have to look very far on social media and various websites to see people doing leadership stuff either. They tweet about what they’re doing. There are endless Facebook status updates that help people gain a better understanding of leadership through what they are doing. In your own world, there is a significant possibility that you are doing a ton of stuff that not only is an expression of your leadership but also helps you learn more about this ever popular discipline. By all means do, just don’t make leadership only about doing.
We have another tendency by which we attempt to encapsulate leadership in a certain way. Our unending desire to learn and understand puts us in a position to gain empirical evidence that supports our theories and allows us to teach things. It is great for furthering the art/science of leadership and disseminating information about it. We like things that have been proven through research and established over time. Nothing wrong with all this, but it’s still not everything about leadership.
Leadership that is only empirical is missing a very vital element. Even if the data is measuring the “soft skills” of interacting with people. Plenty of research has gone into this “softer” area of leadership and it is a learned skill. As we learn these things, we are putting them into some form or structure in order to prioritize and remember the best way forward in leadership based on the context and circumstances. Again, all well and good but not the complete picture.
The thing that makes leadership so powerful is nothing that can be empirically proven through research, calculations or rocket surgery. It is the intangible and unstoppable force of eternal hope/faith. I’m not talking about religion or how you practice your faith, per se. Your faith may play a role in your leadership, but I’m talking about faith in every sense of the word. The idea of having a belief that is not based on proof. Hope is that feeling of what you want can actually be had, even without knowing how. Many of us have an aversion to this idea because it is wholly dependent on our ignorance for its very existence. That makes us intellectuals a bit nervous, me included.
Some people like to call this vision, but there is a distinct difference between vision and faith/hope. Vision is a way to build hope and faith in others, but it can’t replace it. People have faith that the vision is possible because they are given hope by a leader. Quality leadership has to have hope in order to give it. We instill hope in others through a powerful vision and then call that hope to the fore by having faith in their abilities to help bring that vision into reality.
You can’t measure faith/hope. You can’t touch it. You can’t put it in a book. You can’t make a class on it. You can only see the results of them at work. Faith and hope are nothing more than a choice based on the ability and willingness to dream. They are so tenuous they seem fragile, yet they can (and have) alter the course of humanity. It has to be personal and can’t come from anywhere except the depths of your being. What kind of faith and hope have you cultivated to bring your vision into reality?
How can you communicate faith and hope better to those whom you are leading?