A good number of leadership problems I see come about because the leader has never given any thought to the question, “How are you going to lead?”
Many are dumbfounded. Though to be fair, if you ask a writer, “How are you going to write?” there is similar confusion.
The smart ones in both camps reply with a smile and say, “Well.”
That’s a good start. No one aspires to be a lousy writer or a lousy leader, yet both are abundant.
After some thought, a writer might talk about their discipline. “I will write for three hours every night and edit four hours during the day.” They might talk about outlines, research, summoning the muse. They envision book launches, cocktail parties, and movie adaptations.
As heart-quickening and aspirational as all that may be, it still leaves the question unanswered.
Given enough time to ponder, the writer will talk about other authors, the books they like and abhor, favorite characters, settings, styles, and genres. They talk about their craft and how they are working to improve it. What rules they adhere to, which ones they bend, and those they detest and ignore. They have opinions and a point of view. They have a preferred method of writing but will use charcoal bricks on a brick wall to capture their words if they must.
What they have is a philosophy.
So should a leader. You ought to have a plan as to how you will lead, yet have flexibility if conditions change. What other leaders do you learn from, positively and negatively? What do you like about leading, what makes you uncomfortable? What kind of people and causes do you easily support, what challenges you? What norms and perspectives do you honor, and which ones do you rebel against? How do your strengths and values inform your point of view? Is it unyielding, or will it change if you suddenly work for a competitor?
You may not have answers, but you should be curious enough to start finding out. Learn more about yourself, so your leadership is decisive and confident, based on your purpose, not on a whim.
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