In many ways, modern leadership has become a caricature of itself. Our curiosity to define it, our vigor to pursue it, and our zeal to admonish it from others, does little to improve our current condition.
Celebrity gets confused for leadership; noise interferes with signal, heat valued over light. The force of one’s voice eclipses the force of one’s argument.
Complaining about leadership has become cliche and has birthed a multi-billion dollar industry. However, engagement levels remain low while egos soar. Versatility misconstrued as inconsistency, empathy consider too time-consuming, dignity seemingly reserved only for the deserving, and the practice of situational integrity the new standard.
While there are attributes and assessments that can aid in painting a picture of ideal leadership, too many are losing sight of its artistry.
I recently read a belief expressed by legendary dancer, Martha Graham.
There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.
-As quoted in ‘The Life and Work of Martha Graham’ by Agnes DeMille.
She was referring to the perfectionist tendencies of artists, and how they are never pleased. Advice that applies equally well to anyone passionately pursuing their craft. A high rate of perfectionism can lead to despondency and disenchantment.
If you are a servant leader devoted to ongoing improvement but frequently caught in the unrelenting pounding surf of organizational reluctance, read the quote again.
The odds can feel overwhelming, the rewards ephemeral, however, if leading is your calling, not your prize, do not block it from the world. The world needs your unique expression.