Leadership continues to surprise and inspire me. It’s like the metaphorical onion… the more you peel back the layers, the more you discover, that enhances your understanding and perspective. And unlike the onion metaphor; it smells ever so sweet.
Leadership can be a vague and mis-understood concept. It means different things to different people. Much has been written on leadership characteristics and behaviours, yet no two leaders lead in the same way. In fact, extensive study of leadership can lead to confusion and sense of futility… “will I ever get this??”
Can it be distilled into something that resonates with me, that inspires me, that allows me to be true to me, to be at my best? Yes… and it boils down, at its essence, not to WHAT a leaders does, or HOW he does it, but WHY!!
And WHY is about purpose. “Why am I here?” “What’s my purpose in life?” And it’s not limited to the individual; but for the organization as well; a clear explanation of why the organization exists (and I’m not talking about turning a profit and maximizing shareholder value… those are metrics). Man’s been searching for purpose since he acquired the synapses to ask WHY. View Simon Sinek’s TED Talk on how great leaders inspire action.
Nike, which BTW is from the Greek meaning “victory” has a purpose stated as “to provide innovation and inspiration to every athlete in the world”. And Nike defines athlete as anyone with a body (rather large target market I’d say). Athletic purists will argue Nike doesn’t make the best runners. Probably true. But where in their purpose statement does it say anything about superior product performance? Nike’s WHY is innovation and inspiration to everyone, HOW they do that is through cool and funky, and WHAT they make are shoes and athletic wear. Nike’s whats and hows, their actions, are all driven by, and a function of their WHY… their purpose.
For an individual, essentially purpose or WHY sets the platform for leadership characteristics (HOW), and behaviours (WHAT). The clearer and intense degree of specificity associated with your own personal WHY, will make clear HOW you lead, and WHAT you do as a leader. This is the very foundation of leadership, and the core that makes Leadership Coaching so powerful and effective for leaders, and wanna be leaders.