I trust you are well.
Looking at the South African political situation, we are going through testing times indeed. I hope you will find something positive in the script below of my talk at the Tomorrow’s Leaders Convention on the 30th of March. Although aimed at future leaders, I believe the message apllies to all of us.
FOUR CORNERSTONES FOR AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP INFLUENCE
Good morning future Leaders, leaders of tomorrow. Not many things can be as important as to put the spotlight on tomorrow’s leaders. We live in a world, a continent and country that is in desperate need of a new breed of leadership. At Future Leaders Africa and our umbrella company Future Leaders Development, we call it inside-out principle-based leadership.
We believe that –
Just as we are warmed by the fire, not the smoke of the fire, our households, communities, organisations, societies and nations are warmed and made effective by authentic, inside-out and principle-based leadership. Remember this future leader, leader of tomorrow: Leadership is not about being a high performer – it goes beyond high performance; leadership is not about being an expert – it goes beyond expertise; leadership is not about climbing the success, power or status ladder – it goes beyond climbing ladders; leadership is not about skills – it goes beyond skills. Leadership is not about knowledge – it goes beyond knowledge. Leadership is an expression of your whole self to good effect in and through others.
What I want to share with you are four points that speaks directly to your beliefs and conviction – the center of your being – from where all your ideas come from. On these four cornerstones rests your authentic leadership influence. You would agree with me that as a leader, it is expected of you to
– demonstrate character and resilience
– master yourself and your potential
– work with and through others
– and to bring significant positive change
But before I get to the four things, let me say this: life comes with many positive messages for every human being. Messages that affirm us and give us something to work with on our life journey. But embedded in those positive messages is always another message. And that message always says: your responsibility! And so we have reasons to celebrate but for every celebration there is a life obligation to take responsibility for what we are celebrating.
So here are the four cornerstone messages:
- You are blessed and worthy
You are blessed from day one of your life because you are a creation of God, uniquely designed and gifted for a purpose. You are not an accident. Your purpose is in your DNA, your thumbprint and in your true self. It doesn’t have to be something you can write down and then have it as if cast in stone. But you do know what you enjoy doing, what comes more naturally to you and what you believe in and what you value. The intersect of those things will always be a good indication of your purpose. Fulfilling your purpose is not something ‘out there’ as good luck, coincidence and a paved path to success, but ‘in here’ as potential, freedom of choice and responsibility.
So the celebration is your being blessed as unique and worthy of life as any other creation or human being. Embedded in that message is however the message to take responsibility for being your own person. It is easier said than done when you grow up being fed with others’ ideas of what will make you survive and what will make you valuable and recognised … and how you translate all those messages to an ideal self that will please your ego. Taking responsibility for being you is to step out of the crowd and choose to be authentic. It takes courage, but it builds character and grows resilience – qualities we expect to see in leaders. You will never have the fuel in your engine, the passion to fulfil your purpose, if you try to copy others, if you fake life.
The easier part in being your own person is to know your strengths and to work with them. The difficult part is to face and accept your weaknesses as the first step towards overcoming them. And when you have made progress on one of them, there is another one waiting. Why would one be interested in knowing your weaknesses? Because our blind spots can prevent us from being effective, even when using our strengths. Remember: There is nothing so terribly wrong about about being wrong or making a judgment error – nobody is perfect.
Future leaders, leaders of tomorrow, your leadership cannot stand on a false image of yourself – be it an over-estimation of it or an underestimation. It will surely fail you and others sooner or later. You will not reach your full potential by trying to be someone you are not.
Know yourself as blessed and worthy of a unique purpose.
- You are a rising star
In leadership it is of course not only about your character, resilience and courage, but the need to master yourself with the seeds of your unlimited potential. I stress ‘unlimited’ because it is not for us to put a lid on our potential with self-limiting beliefs. What is up to us, is what we do with our freedom of choice – every single moment. Remember this: The choices we make every single moment of every single day, is not merely a reaction to what we face, but a co-creation of what we will face next. That makes you a rising star. You are the author of your life story if you take responsibility for the seeds of your potential and if you embrace your freedom of choice. And so you can choose to grow your self-awareness, your self-discipline, your self-confidence, self-initiative, self-motivation, perseverance, adaptability and balance. Through those choices you unlock your potential – not just till you reach the peak of your career, but till the day you die.
So celebrate your potential … but take responsibility for your self-mastery.
Know yourself as always capable of living your purpose
- You are connected
How sad is it to see the highly driven award winning top performer sitting alone, surrounded by all his framed achievements, but empty in his heart because of the absence of loving relationships. Leading yourself to higher personal achievements is part of leadership, but it is ultimately the poorer part. The richer part is to be found in the collective initiatives we participate in towards something meaningful. So, the good news is that we live in a inter-connected world. By design we are relational beings. We have it in our DNA to give and receive love and to stand and work together … we can celebrate that. But we will only feel to do so when we responsibly nurture the relationships we are in. As a leader, it is to take responsibility for how we build teams to collaborate in achieving common goals by respecting, serving and appreciating others.
Know yourself as a part of something bigger, more beautiful.
- You are relevant
You are relevant to this world. It is not for nothing that you were given a purpose with your unique design and gifts. However, you will find it hard to experience your relevance and to celebrate it if you neglect your responsibility to participate fully in a dynamic life. As a leader you would know the importance of staying relevant as the world changes and shifts from old rules to new rules, old paradigms to new paradigms, old trends to new trends. So, future leader, leader of tomorrow, retain your hunger for new knowledge and understanding of changes, not only for the next number of years, but throughout your life. In years to come you will learn that to be relevant does not only require new knowledge about things out there, but even more importantly, new understanding and defining of yourself.
Know yourself as open to new learning and able to adapt.
To close, future leaders, take this always with you: you are blessed and worthy to live your purpose, you are a rising star with unlimited inherent potential, you are connected to others for a richer life and you are relevant to the world in your ability to learn, grow and change. I wish you a wonderful future of leading yourself, change and others by being you.