Dan at Oestreich Associates
has a brilliant post today - On Finding A Mirror
(actually, most of his posts are pretty brilliant). He writes:
I am sometimes faced with audiences that seem to me like they want such a hard, definitive, literal answers: here is what leadership is; here are the five (or six or seven) qualities that define it; here is the way you evaluate yourself to make sure you are effective in each of these pre-defined areas -- as if reality could be pinned down so neatly and easily.
Hence, all the books out there on leadership. But, Dan reminds us that we really do know how to be the leader we most want to be. Midway, he offers an exercise that gets to the heart of our own personal conception of leadership, our gifts and our shadows. Why do this exercise? Dan explains:
Well, after working with it with hundreds of people I would say the main benefit is to get completely away from intellectualizing the answer to the question, "What does it mean to be a good leader?" It gets us away from believing someone actually knows the full story, knows our full story. That kind of believing can lead to such abstraction -- as if there were some final answer and if we talk enough it will materialize. I'm more interested in the part of us that already seems to have some answers to that question and from a distinctly personal vantage point.
I'm a book junkie and a large part of my library is devoted to leadership (considering it's part of what I do with my coaching practice, that only makes sense). I love getting the thoughts and experiences of other leaders; sometimes get seduced into looking for that little nugget of gold that's going to transform my own understanding of and abilities in leadership. I think Dan just reminds us that we have most of what we need inside already. We just need to trust ourselves more.