Thursday, April 12, 2007

Leading from within.

My good friend Martin Spernau wondered if my recent thoughts on "Pah!" actually cast aspersions on those people who Lead From Within.

So okay! Before I explain further, what does it mean to Lead From Within?

There are people gifted at leadership. They exude a kind of wonderful charisma and if coupled with intelligence and wit can woo any number of persons to follow them along any number of paths. Of course there is leadership where the leaders are not actually gifted but have enough wealth and political power to be in leadership positions. Genuine leadership skills can be learned but there is that Born-to-lead X Factor in the best leaders.

We tend to think of Leadership as someone out front of the crowd; the outspoken, confident and knowledgeable guide to the path that lays ahead. All gifted leaders rally the troops, build morale, map out the course and focus the collective energy toward successful completion of the goal.

There is another kind of Leader who does these very things but is rarely known or seen by the masses. They are the gentle niche guardians of encouraging spirit, surreptitiously guiding and leading others - usually one-on-one or in small clusters rather than the whole collective - toward better things and places. They ARE leaders but they shun the glare of the public spotlight, preferring instead to wield their power in a more Behind-the-scenes kind of way. They support the main players and above all, encourage the whole team. They are empathic and generally sanguine and usually years ahead of their time in their attitudes and thinking.

Whereas popular leaders rely greatly on their support team in order to do their magic. Those who Lead From Within tend to bring their own magic! They seek not power nor glory, and sometimes are not that interested in fiscal rewards either although they do enjoy receiving acknowledgement for their unique contribution to the team effort.

Martin's query that those who Lead From Within might be indulging in "Pah!" highlighted my need to make another distinction between Arrogant Pride dressed up as Humility and unselfconscious serenity that doesn't need attention focused on it in order to feel better about itself!

Those who Lead From Within any group or organisation can and indeed do indulge in "Pah!"! We all do it at some point or another. Whenever we feel powerless and less than the sum of our being, we seek recognition and admiration in order to fill our psychological bellies with a sense of personal well-being. We want to be proud of ourselves as much as make others proud of us. Our human nature - our intelligence - has all sorts of tricks to get recognition and power. It's just a normal part of the human psyche really and nothing to be alarmed about. There are few human beings in this world who are never subject to a hurt pride!

But... Leading From Within is not necessarily "Pah!" itself! Those who LFW are generally more honest than that actually. It is confidence that is the difference between those who do "Pah!" as a matter of course and those who don't. "Pah!" is about puffing up the self, LFW is simply doing ones job to achieve the best outcomes for everyone.

LFW may appear to be just leadership with an "I'm so humble! Look at me!" label but if that be the case then the person isn't LFW. Effective leadership requires one to STOP thinking of the Self and focus outwards toward the OTHER, be it another person or the team.

It takes someone with basic innate confidence to accept their skills and apply them in context without seeking extra rewards or public recognition. Those who are LFW might want to be acknowledged for their skills but they don't necessarily believe its a right either. They just DO their job and bring along their particular magic to make that job sparkle and shine!

It can be hard to spot "Pah!" by the way! Some get very good at it to the point they even dupe themselves about it and never truly learn the basic truth about humility. Humility is unselfconscious confidence focused outside of the Ego. It is pride but not Pride! It seeks not to gain status for the Self but rather to support the egalitarian goals of the whole group. With "Pah!", the difference lies within the person and their attitude toward themselves and their job. What appears to be humility on the outside may in fact be "Pah!", then again it may not.

It's not a question of "dissing" anyone who maybe LFW and dumping them with this "Pah!" stuff! Martin is exceptional at LFW! :) Whether he believes he is indulging in "Pah!" is for his own introspection and not one for any of us to judge.

We can't know people's thoughts so accusing someone of "Pah!" could be very cruel. It's important that we allow people to express themselves in their own way. "Pah!" is a personal thing. We might notice it in some people and raise our eyebrows at them in judgement but in fact, "Pah!" is simply a cry for personal recognition; to be loved for who we are, as we come.

Yes it is true that "Pah!" is manipulative and dishonest and it is most certainly not true humility, however I believe it also true that it's a whole lot more common than people will admit. So before we pass judgement on anyone for indulging in "Pah!", first let's make sure we aren't looking for the same thing they are. :)

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