Times have changed.
The lifestyles we live now and the values we practice would not be recognized by our grand parents as being from the same planet that they knew.
Along with everything else, leadership has changed. Good leaders are hard to find, at least the kind of leaders that made the heroes of the past.
History books are filled with stories of war, politics and faith. These men and women threw themselves wholeheartedly and unreservedly into challenges and crises without any consideration of personal cost. Jose Rizal, Ninoy Aquino, Mother Theresa, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther, Billy Graham, Mohandas Ghandi or Nelson Mandella…are just a few examples. Different styles, different objectives but lasting results!
I lament, “Where have all the leaders gone?”
Who has a cause that is worth sacrificing for? Who will stand up and be willing really lead, not just be called a leader?
One of my favorite writers is Peggy Noonan. One of my favorite quotes of her is this:
“…it’s a great mistake when you are in a leadership position to want to be like everyone else. Because that, actually, is not your job. Your job is to be better, and to set standards that those below you have to reach to meet. And you have to do this even when it’s hard, even when you know you yourself don’t quite meet the standards you represent.”
Leaders do that. They push themselves first, to be better, to grow and to rise up. In so doing they believe, if they do, someone will follow and do the same. They are not one of the guys, or one of the “gang”. They are out in front going somewhere.
This model I write about is not new. It is what leaders are all about.
Unfortunately there are few men and women who will be leaders today. Lots are willing to be in charge or take a position if assigned, but few volunteers jump into the ring saying, “I’ll get that done for you.”
Here in the Philippines we have this problem of being “assigned”, or asked to do something. It’s like this: “if you assign me and I don’t succeed, then it’s not really my fault. It was your decision to “assign” me; I did my best, but it didn’t succeed. So it’s not my fault; I just cooperated.”
This mindset makes for poor leaders. It is an unwillingness to be responsible for people, for change and even for good. It is passive leadership and passive leadership is no leadership at all. Real leadership will jump in, take a step of faith, and make that thing their thing. They will take it personally.
Once you jump into the ring and face off against the challenge, take your best shot. Then take another one and another. Go for the win, leave a mark, make a difference.
Maybe you’re not like that. Perhaps your style is: “I’m more reserved, careful and calculating.” Well, that’s the beauty of life- we can learn to step outside of our personality to be a leader. Leadership is a learned skill and not a birthright.
Learn, change, grow while you travel through life.
Don’t expect to get it all right all the time.
Don’t give up until your job is done.
That is true leadership.