Or what we call Leadership Inside Out.
What defines a successful leader? It’s a question often asked during our keynotes or seminars and the responses from delegates are as varied as the number of books that have been written on the subject; however, one aspect that everyone always agrees on is that the effective leader is defined by what they do – how they behave, as opposed to what they say or promise. We define this as ‘Leadership Inside Out’, i.e. you have to be able to lead yourself first, by taking full responsibility and control for your beliefs, thoughts, actions and ultimately your outcomes, before you have any hope of influencing others and gaining respect and followers.
Leadership has nothing to do with job titles, perceived level of personal or professional success or even rank. We’ve all probably had a poor subordinate experience under a terrible leader yet find ourselves drawn to the opinions, beliefs and requests of others who hold no ‘official’ authority.
So how do you lead from the inside out?
This begins and ends with ‘Emotional Control’. By pro-actively choosing your beliefs, emotions and the meaning you associate to your choices, all of which ultimately affect your behaviour. This is even more prevalent when faced with other people’s behaviour, crisis situations, criticism, stress or outcomes that you could never have predicted – this is when your leadership ability is truly tested and those that succeed are those that are able to remain in control of their emotions.
When the now famous Captain Chesley Sullenberger (Sully to his friends) calmly landed his stricken US Airways Flt 1549 on the Hudson on 15th January 2009, successfully saving the lives of all 155 on board, the media-shy hero described how, when faced with the insurmountable challenge that presented itself, he had to find the internal strength to overcome his own fears and an all-consuming need to vomit, in order to focus on the task in hand.
Hopefully you will never have to face such a momentous challenge to our leadership ability but by constantly reminding ourselves that our only true choice is choosing how we respond to the people and events around us, we continuously develop our leadership ability that allows us to acquire the followers and respect required to enhance our success and the success of those we help and support.
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