“No magic bullet, not even the Internet, can save us from population explosion, deforestations, climate disruption, poison by pollution, and wholesale extinctions of plant and animal species. We are going to have to want different things, seek different pleasures, pursue different goals than those that have been driving us and our global economy.” Joanna Macy
There are many definitions of leadership and what or who makes a good leader. I personally have been training high potentials and business leaders for many years. It takes COVID19 to make me stop and think about the question: What is leadership?
Leadership is defined in terms of goals, the purpose and the context in which leaders are placed. For example a leader of a country, whether Boris Johnson, Donald Trump or President Putin are all tasked with the same role and goals, in comparison to an army general leading his men into war, the goals and context are vastly different, thus affecting the definition of leadership, and the extension of that – the characteristics of a good leader.
Perhaps the one common aspect or definition is that leaders inspire and influence others to want to do things. Leaders defined in this way are in every nation and every society. In most cases they are highly visible and have an effect on many aspects of our lives including how we think, how we act, our product choices, lifestyle, values and for whom we vote. A case in point in the run up to the election in the USA.
Looking around the world we see leaders who serve the common good, speaking their truth, and we see leaders who believe their position allows them to embezzle, manipulate, corrupt and steal from those they lead through mistruths, subtle or open lies and actions of blatant personal gain.
It is seldom, in the list of characteristics of a good leader that we see values, words and statements that are reflected in their true behaviour such as speaking their truth, commitment to the common good, to world and planet sustainability, the importance of taking a long term view and decisions that impact not only the short term, but long term as well.
What is long term in an organisation?
The answer probably depends on the type of business you are in, the country in which you are operating and the goals of the business. I remember in my early days of working in the hotel industry at the London Hilton, where every 2-3 years the General Manager would be replaced, the outgoing person moving on to greater things and the incoming on the same trajectory. What did this mean? It meant that every GM wanted to leave his or her impact on the profitability of the operation. You might say, that is natural and that it should be that way. My view is slightly different, especially when profitability affecting the employees who work so hard to give the “promised” service to each and every guest are left with insufficient tools to do the job, uniforms that need replacing and no longer give pride to the neglected employee who is wearing it. Who wins here? The GM who is promoted onwards? Such short-sighted decisions take time to show the true impact on morale, reputation, performance and turnover. Long gone are those that were instrumental in this demise.
Are governments any different? Clearly not. We can see in the UK how a change of party spends a great deal of time, taxpayer’s money and effort to undo policies, decisions and actions that the previous government put in place. Why do we allow this? Long term needs to be no less than 30 years and preferably 50+ years to develop sustainability, policies that actually come to fruition to positively impact generations of people, the immediate environment, nature as well as the whole planet in which we all share and live. At the moment, enjoyment of this planet depends on which side of the exploitation you are! For example, exploitation of the rain forests, an essential part of the world ecosystem being raped to replace it with a short-term crop of soya which is grown to feed cattle to eventually end up on someone’s plate. Is this effective leadership?
How many leaders do you know who invest in their personal development, their true nature – the inner consciousness and knowing that comes with connecting to oneself and the inner knowledge that is shared through connection with all other sentient beings? The true reality of the self can only be revealed through self-exploration that is beyond logic, information and skills we have gathered along the way, it is about being. Being comfortable with who you are, being comfortable with the truth, without ego and science. This is the intuitive self and is a person who is in touch with their soul and their true purpose in this life.
The Dalai Lama in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize said “Because we all share this small planet Earth, we have to learn to live in harmony and peace with each other and with nature. That is not just a dream, but a necessity.”
Is it not time for leaders within governments and organisations to evaluate their honesty motives and actions to understand whether they are in accord with harmony and peace, with nature, each other and themselves?
This time of COVID19 seems to be inviting our leaders and each one of us to question our ideas and beliefs, our habits and actions that are neither serving us as individuals, the organisations in which we work, our nations and countries, and Mother Earth. It is a time to connect to our hearts, our inner wisdom, which we all have, and create inner peace and world peace, joy and happiness through true connection, nurturing and compassionate leadership that manifests joy, values-based leadership and unconditional love for all those you lead. These characteristics do not take away from having to make difficult decisions such as redundancies of hard-working people, but simply how we go about doing this. Nor does it negatively influence the profitability of organisations. It might take longer to show this profitability, but in the long term it will be sustainable and more. Once again Nelson Mandela springs to mind with his gentle, compassionate ability to positively influence even his captors and enemies through living his truth and in doing so, showing others the way.
How long is it going to be before each and every one of us changes, stops paying lip service to ideals such as sustainability, wellbeing and leadership and actually lead by example through living these qualities, characteristics and ideals?
This blog was inspired by Robert Rabin and the book he wrote in 1998, Invisible Leadership, and the person who recommended I read it – Owen Bailey. To both I am extremely grateful as it has helped me order the outer expression of my inner self.
To find out more about how Green Key can help you and your leadership journey, contact Rachel directly.
Rachel Shackleton, Founder of Green Key Personal Development and Green Key Health is a leadership trainer, medical herbalist and naturopath specializing in corporate health through face-to-face, on-line and e-learning development solutions.
New here? Rachel writes about leadership development, communication and customer excellence, including health and well-being at work. You can read similar blogs here: