True Leadership, is it a Lost Cause?

I was on my way to the office when I started drafting this blog post on my phone. I just finished scrolling through some news about current events.

“Too much negativity”, I told myself as I gently tap the AssistiveTouch of my phone bringing me back to the homescreen. I looked outside the window and I saw the beautiful colors painted across the sky. The dawn starts to break into a beautiful sunrise. This is one of those times to reflect.

Then a word came to my mind… LEADERSHIP.

leadership

What happened to the real meaning of leadership? Has it become a lost cause in this 21st century? What happened to the principle that “leadership is synonymous to servitude”?

I remember the time when I had the opportunity to work side by side with the Royal couple – Duke Maximillian (He’s the first cousin of Prince Charles) and Archduchess Valerie of Austria. I went to Tacloban that time to represent the Reading Association of the Philippines as we help rebuild public libraries that were destroyed by typhoon Yolanda.

I searched them in google and I saw this photo

I searched them in google and I saw this photo

tacloban

The Royal couple went to Tacloban to help. They went there without special treatments. They wore ordinary clothes, they went with us in the mountains, ate boiled banana and pancit and walked in the rain just to help and serve. For four consecutive days we woke up at 4:00a.m. and slept around 11:00p.m. At the end of our trip, we were all exhausted yet the smiles that we saw from the Typhoon victims made all the hard work worth it.

I am sure that they have a lot of servants who can do these things and yet, they were the ones who did it themselves. Not because there were media people around, not because they were obliged, but because they want to do it. The principles of leadership and servitude were embedded in their character.

I cried and smile as I listen to the stories of Yolanda survivors. One of the kids approached me and told me "I miss my mother so much! Even though Yolanda took her from me, I will still do my best to make her proud by studying hard." He then smiled and said, "I also lost my older sister who is about your age. Could you give me a hug?" That made me speechless for few seconds.

I cried and smiled as I listened to the stories of Yolanda survivors. One of the kids approached me and told me “I miss my mother so much! Even though Yolanda took her from me, I will still do my best to make her proud by studying hard.” He then smiled and said, “I also lost my older sister who is about your age. Could you give me a hug?” That made me speechless for few seconds.

My flashback was interrupted when my stomach started making funny noises. Knowing that I need to grab some breakfast, I stopped at the nearby coffee shop.

I took the seat at the corner of the shop as I drink my coffee and eat the sandwich that I ordered. I observed the people inside the coffee shop. There was a group who seemed to drop by for coffee. Few of them are Americans in their usual coat and tie. Some are Filipinos in business attire while few are ladies in their corporate attires. I was silently observing the group as I try to pinpoint who the boss is when one American guy excused himself to the group because he needs to attend an online conference.

After he left, the group started talking how much they appreciate their new boss who happens to be the guy who just left. From what I heard (yes, I was eavesdropping!) the guy has excellent leadership skills. I would like to listen more to learn what made them think that the guy is an excellent leader but I also don’t want to be late for work.

I gulped the remaining green tea soy latte before I headed out of the coffee shop. When I entered the office, I still had thirty minutes before the office hours begin. I switched on my computer and searched “What Makes a Good Leader?”. I browsed through some links until I saw an article from Huffington Post . The title of the article is “Ten Principles of Effective and Authentic Leadership”. I find the article helpful and I want to share it with all of you. We may not be a CEO of a company yet that should not stop us from practicing the right principles of leadership. Come to think of it, we are our own leaders. What is a great way to perfect something than to practice it, right? So here are the pointers that I learned from the article:

There is a great amount of definitions and theories about effective leadership. Each leader chooses their unique formula of success, but still there are keys to authentic leadership that can’t be ignored. Below are 10 important principles each leader should know.

1. Leadership Is Behavior, Not Position
Leaders are the ones who take responsibility for making decisions and bringing change. Leaders are the ones who empower people to discover and use their greatest potential. The executive position on someone’s visit card won’t do all of these. People are the ones to choose their leader. And how will they do that? They will judge by behavior, attitude and actions. If you want to be a leader, then act like a leader and shape a better reality.

2. The Best Way of Influence Is Setting an Example
Each leader wants to get the best out of their team. Excellence orientation is great, as there is always need for development. But here is the simple truth. Instead of telling your team members what to do, show it to them by your own example. They are following you each and every moment. Practice what you preach, and the results will astonish you. Especially during hard times, when chances to give up are very big, you should be the one who faces obstacles with confidence and determination towards success. Be sure, that they will do the same and stand by your side.

3. Leading Means Making an Impact
Think about the greatest leaders in history. What was the one thing they had in common? Yes, they all made an impact. Leadership is not just setting goals and effectively achieving them with your team. Leadership is not just brilliant public speaking and great communication skills. If you want to be an authentic leader, you should have your unique contribution to the welfare of the society. You should make a positive change.

4. Leadership is Chasing Vision, Not Money
Without a vision, your activities are meaningless. Each person can be very busy implementing various tasks, but the key is devoting your efforts and time to the realization of your vision. Vision is what inspires people to take action and go forward. Discover your unique vision and coordinate all your activities towards it. Inspire each and every member of your team with that vision.

5. Actions Speak Louder Than Words
It’s not a secret that much talking and less acting has nothing to do with effectiveness. What people see affects them many times greater than what they hear. So, choose actions. Don’t waste your and other people’s time on endless conversations about your plans. Just realize that plans and be sure that everyone will see it.

6. Flexibility May Refer to Behavior, Not Values
Depending on circumstances you may choose a different style of leadership or communication. Flexibility is a truly effective trait, if it doesn’t affect your values. Each and every decision of yours, no matter the situation, must be based on your value system. As long as your actions are value-driven, you will have the trust and respect of people around you.

7. Leadership is All About People
Could you be a leader in an empty room by having profound goals and skills? Of course, not. Leading means communicating, influencing and engaging. Communication skills are the foundation of effective leadership. Constantly improve your relationships with people, and the amazing results won’t make you wait.

8. It Is Fine To Admit Mistakes
If everything has always been done perfectly, we would have somehow lost the ability to analyze and improve. Mistakes are proof that you are doing something. You won’t become a worse leader if you admit your mistakes. By doing that, you will show that you are wise enough to learn from your each and every experience.

9. Unity Is Strength
Team is somehow the most important resource for each leader. Embrace your team and devote your energy to care about its unity each and every day. As long as your team is splendid, nothing can stay on your way to success. Make sure that all people in your team consider themselves as members of a strong, unified family.

10. There Is Always Room for Growth
Remember, satisfaction should be a short-term feeling. Life would become useless without ongoing improvement. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t appreciate what you have. This means that you should be thankful for everything you have achieved, but still try to do a little more for this world.

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