Leadership: A State of Mind (Revisited)

Apr 15, 2014

Yes, that’s exactly what I said. Leadership is a state of mind. Now, I know if you’re someone with a great title, you probably won’t like this notion. But, how many of us have had the unfortunate opportunity to be led by someone with an impressive title who didn’t have a clue about what leadership means?

My guess is, probably most of us.

Or, perhaps you’ve worked with a colleague who failed to take responsibility or chose to simply pass the buck. It’s that co-worker that you can never count on to arrive on time, keep their word, or meet the deadline. So, what then, do I mean by the premise that leadership is a mindset? Simply stated, it means that leadership is a place to come from not necessarily a place to get to. While it can be about a position or a title, it’s more about how you embrace the challenge and responsibility of leadership. How you think about yourself in terms of leadership and the ability to influence the people and circumstances around you. Now, more than ever, I’ve come to the conclusion that each of us has the opportunity to do just that, embrace leadership.

If you’re like me, you’re probably getting pretty tired of the blame game that we witness on television each night amongst our politicians and political candidates. Beyond the obvious, what’s really disturbing about this debacle is that we get to pay for this three ring circus. While millions of dollars are being spent on ad campaigns that offer no political, economic, or social solutions, our nation and too many of the citizens in it are experiencing tremendous stress, pain, and suffering. Leadership, it often seems, is simply a thing of the past. What we have before us as choice now seems to be nothing more than political rhetoric aimed at tearing down the opposite party. In my consultant practice, I’m afraid I witness much of the same thing in corporate America. The good news is I have also had the privilege of working with tremendous leaders who execute in amazing ways each and every day. What I’ve come to realize is that when all is said and done, each of us has a choice to step into a leadership mindset, and in doing so, to generate different results.

Let’s begin a hard conversation, then, about what we, as citizens of a global society, can do to stop the madness. As a doctoral student, leadership is my field, and what I love most about the work I do and the people I meet is that together we often transform the way we think, act, and respond to the complexities of the day. One of the great things about those who decide to take on an attitude of leadership is that there is opportunity for greater understanding and self-awareness. So, let’s start there.

This post originally ran on February 21, 2012

Q: What qualities do you admire in a leader?