(a good place to begin)
I’m a leader.
I could say that I love to lead.
But really, I like to be followed.
For too long, my fragile ego has depended on the loyalty of others.
I have tried in vain
to please my followers and bosses
and win them over.
This has plagued me for years.
So I’m giving up.
I’m falling back in love with leading.
With the actual craft.
And not the disease of fortune and fame.
I’m kicking my lust for power.
And learning to lead for myself again.
This has been both therapeutic and challenging.
And I am finding that I am not alone.
Leaders everywhere are rediscovering their first love: leading.
Not bonuses, or the corner office, or fancy titles.
This manifesto is an outstretched hand to others
who feel this same tension between people and performance.
If this resonates with you, read on.
A quick word of warning before we continue…
There will be blood. And tears.
Be prepared to be challenged.
And to be exhilarated.
Because when this is over,
I am going to ask you to do something.
To start leading for the right reasons.
CALL TO ARMS
(A battle cry for those who will hear)
Real leaders don’t lead to get listed on the Forbes Top 20 CEOs.
They lead for another reason.
This is the first and only lesson every leader must learn:
Real leaders don’t lead for fame, fortune and powerful friends.
They do it because they cannot not lead.
By their gifts,
and under the authority of a higher calling,
they are compelled to lead.
But most importantly,
to empower people to believe in their own power to lead.
Leaders are bold.
They are ambitious.
But their ambitions are not self-serving.
Rather, they feel personally responsible
for making the world a better place.
Real leaders wake up every morning feeling
“There’s something bigger I’m meant to do”.
Even if they can’t yet articulate it.
Under immense pressure from all sides,
when it is so tempting to call it quits,
they discipline themselves to persevere.
Questions of how long or how much are irrelevant.
What is imperative,
what cannot be emphasised enough,
is that they persevere.
Real leaders do not begin their day with aspirations
of building the next Amazon.
Nor do they dream of becoming the next Steve Jobs.
This is natural, of course.
This desire to be admired.
To be acknowledged as a force that changes the world.
But ultimately it corrupts the art,
The pure desire to lead.
We must put these ideas of fame and fortune to death.
They have no place in the act of empowering people.
The true leader simply shows up.
Ready to do the work.
They walk the talk.
They create a safe place
where everyone at every level
is seen as a leader.
Everyone plays a part.
Every part is significant.
Whether the work is successful or acknowledged
is not important.
Empowering people is our primary concern.
Real leaders do not need the biggest teams
or the fanciest tech
to deliver high performance.
They know, without question,
that their greatest adversary and ally
And that they are not alone.
Real leaders recognise that there is a hidden force.
Acting upon them.
And leading them.
And everyone has this force.
The wisest leaders call upon this force,
taking the time to learn how to wield it well.
They encourage others to do the same.
They do this every day.
You may not feel ready to lead.
But this is not an excuse to wait.
It is a call to begin.
To honour your gift.
To show up.
Even without invitation.
Show up in an extraordinary way.
In the way only you can.
Again, the whole point of this is simply…
Leaders don’t lead to be loved.
They lead for the pure love of leading.
Because if they were not leading,
They wouldn’t know what to do.
Of course, there is a great irony to all of this.
As we wean ourselves off the addiction to praises,
we leaders discover something.
That this fasting from popularity
liberates us to empower remarkable works of greatness.
Real leaders know that greatness is never achieved alone.
Here is the paradox:
As we care less about what people think of us,
more people will be touched by our leadership.
They will recognise it.
They will respect it.
They will bring their extreme effort
and relentless creativity.
To achieve greatness.
Until then, you and I are not excused from leading.
(Where you must decide to start)
To dance at the edge of greatness.
To dream boldly and imagine impossibilities.
To travel between two worlds.
The world that is possible
and the world that is.
In a world that’s changing,
people are searching for meaning,
to understand what is happening.
There has never been a greater need for leadership.
To provide clarity.
To provide vitality.
To provide focus.
So turn off your email.
Stop checking your traffic light scorecards.
And start leading.
It’s time to begin.
This is not up to you.
This whole process
of creating the next big thing
and becoming a great CEO.
Of being revered for your bold vision and charisma.
It’s not your call.
Your job is to show up.
We only have today.
That is all we are ever promised.
And today, we must lead.
The real leader within you is waiting.
Are you looking to massively lift performance? Are you looking to get people to take individual accountability for their own performance? Email me firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about bringing Fight Club to your organisation.
About Sophia Chin, Head of Client Success & Co-founder of PERSONNA
Sophia works with organisations to develop better leaders through Empowered Leadership. Everyone plays a part in owning and leading change. Over the last 12 years, Sophia has worked with hundreds of senior business leaders and organisations like Apple and Grab to align personal and organisational vision and co-create value through a shared purpose.