Leadership always reveals our inner qualities. You can fake it for awhile, displaying an easy-going spirit you heard about in a leadership podcast, but eventually the truth will out. Then there are those of us who do not try to disguise it and all the gunk from our inner selves splatters on those around us (think: Elon Musk).
Leadership puts your truest self on display if for no other reason than others are watching, either because they’re paid to follow or they’re deciding if they will continue. And nothing reveals the inner self of leaders like stress, challenges, unforeseen obstacles and failure.
When I think of leadership from this perspective, the metaphor of journey comes to mind. Some of the greatest stories of the world are stories of epic journeys: The Odyssey, The Divine Comedy, Pilgrims Progress, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. While the plot of each story focuses on the trials and challenges experienced along the way, the true journey is the learning and growth of the hero or heroine.
Anyone who has been a leader can relate to this. While the story that everyone sees are the challenges and trials the leader navigates, the true journey is the inward one where the leader grows and learns. I have found that every leader has five journeys to take:
1. Followership journey- from independence to dependence where we learn that we are better together.
2. Stewardship journey- from selfishness to generosity where we learn that it is easy to give what we do not own.
3. Leadership journey
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