What makes a leader? It’s simple. Followers. In reality, it isn’t leaders who declare themselves a leader, it is those who follow that declare a leader. If no one follows, there is no leading.
If you are wondering who your followers are, begin by looking in the mirror. The phrase “leading your life” is not a misnomer. Your life is a series of choices that you make and when you string those choices together, you have a life. Next, take a look at everyone around you. Co-workers, friends, family; you are leading them. Really. You are influencing choices they make just by hanging out with them.
Then, there are your organizations to which you belong, your community. And finally, there are those that you are professionally tasked to lead: those who work for you.
Ubiquitous leadership is not an original thought. For centuries John Donne has invited us to consider his premise that, “No man is an island.” What we do and what we don’t do has impact not only on us, but everyone in our sphere.
That’s a lot of words to say: We are all leaders. We all have impact. How we lead matters.
Leadership skill: Lead with integrity.
Integrity is a tricky word. Google gives it two seemingly unrelated definitions: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles, and the state of being whole and undivided. The first defines integrity in terms of what you value: honesty and morality. The second defines integrity in terms of how you act: whole and undivided. When you lead yourself or others with integrity, you match up what you believe with what you do. You walk your talk. When your insides match your outsides, you are whole and undivided. This integration of self impacts you with peace and confidence. It acts as a magnet to others. They trust you and are compelled to connect with you. Lining up who you are with what you do, gives you the credibility to create positive and powerful impact.
How are you doing, 0 to 10, leading with integrity?
Without that question, this topic is irrelevant, isn’t it? I’m about a 7.
On the one hand, I am fiercely committed to not lying to others, but am I lying when I believe in (and espouse the importance of) living a healthy lifestyle but I eat poorly and exercise intermittently? (I’m currently in a cookie phase).
At a core level I believe in the essential value of respecting others, yet I sometimes find myself speaking harshly. Of course, this brings up the question of whether or not leading with integrity means being perfect. Fortunately, the answer is a resounding NO! Otherwise we would all be doomed to be poor leaders. Leading with integrity means that when we notice that what we believe is not matching what we do, we work toward a course correction. It is time for me to apologize to my body for neglecting it as quickly as I apologize to others when I disrespect them!