Thursday, January 8, 2009

Your Ultimate Leadership Challenge

You may be surprised to know that you have the opportunity to participate in the ultimate leadership challenge on the planet. It's a chance to make the world a better place, for you and for those you care about. Fulfilling this challenge also makes you a healthier and happier person. Any ideas?

Well, the ultimate leadership challenge is showing up as a leader in your own life.

That's one of the many things I've learned from blogger/musician/entrepreneur/creativity teacher Christine Kane. What Christine teaches about personal leadership totally resonates with what I know about effective communication.

Exceptional leaders and communications share at least one major commonality: they are clear about who they are, what they want, and what they expect from life.

People who regularly show up as the leaders of their own lives usually look something like this:

  • They know what they want from their work and their relationships.
  • They realize they're not perfect, but since no one is, it's not an issue for them.
  • Their sense of self (or self-esteem) is not dependent on approval from others.
  • Leaders know that sooner or later they achieve their objectives, sometimes it takes longer than expected.
  • What others call failure, leaders know is just part of the process of being successful.
  • Their quiet confidence doesn't allow them to get caught up in dramatic interludes, or attempts to convince others to accept their viewpoint.
  • Much of their success derives from daily habits that are mostly not exciting.
  • When other people don't deliver the expected level of service, authentic leaders express their expectations without getting huffy about it.

Here is a snapshot of someone who is not a leader in her own life:

Ms. Priss shows up at the counter to order her cafe au lait. Somehow the person at the counter doesn't see her, or doesn't acknowledge her. Ms. Priss keeps silent, but her slight disappointment transforms in barely concealed contempt when Mr. Counter Person cheerfully waits on the new customer who just walked in the door.

The reality is that her contempt is not concealed. Mr. Counter Person doesn't know what's wrong with this lady who's obviously waiting for someone else to show up.

Ms. Priss is about to explore from anger and stalks out of the coffee shop. Mr. Counter Person wonders what her problem was, but quickly moves on to more interesting matters.

Ms. Priss failed to express what she wanted. She expected Mr. Counter Person to know that she was there to order a coffee. It never occurred to her that Mr. Counter Person would falsely assume that she was waiting for someone else. Not getting the service she expected, Ms. Priss feels slighted, but refuses to resolve the issue in the most obvious fashion - by opening her mouth and asking for a coffee.

Do the world and yourself a favor, show up a the leader of your life.