What Is Leadership?

Leadership is an interactive conversation that pulls people toward becoming comfortable with the language of personal responsibility and commitment.

Leadership is not just for people at the top. Everyone can learn to lead by discovering the power that lies within each one of us to make a difference and being prepared when the call to lead comes.

Albert Einstein once said, “We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles but no personality. It cannot lead; it can only serve.” Leaders know and science has discovered emotionality’s deeper purpose: the timeworn mechanisms of emotion allow two human beings to receive the contents of each person’s minds. Emotion is the messenger of love; it is the vehicle that carries every signal from one brimming heart to another.

Leadership is applicable to all facets of life: a competency that you can learn to expand your perspective, set the context of a goal, understand the dynamics of human behavior and take the initiative to get to where you want to be.

Here are five guiding principles that guide respectful conversations:

1. When peers connect change happens. Effective coaching can happen on the
dance floor of conversation.

2. It’s OK to begin a conversation by confronting the other person with questions
that seem awkward but set the stage for a respectful exchange. Why waste time
on small talk? Just ask to-the-point information-seeking questions, like: “What are
you here for? How do you want to spend our time together?”

3. Conversations are not meant to be structured. Be open to conversations that
you are unprepared for and focused on the interests of the other person (not your

4. Don’t get pulled into solving problems that may not matter to the other person.
Allow time for the person to get to what’s really important. Provide spaces where
they can express their doubts and fears by being a thoughtful listener–without
taking on the responsibility to fix or debate the issue. After all, you have invited
the person to talk about what matters to her or him, not you, so allow time for
the articulation of those thoughts and feelings.

5. Personal transformation happens when the right questions get asked–not by
providing answers. When you focus on the solution, you are trying to sell the person
something. When you allow people to answer their own questions, they discover
what they were not aware of—and what is needed to move forward. Personal
transformation leads corporate transformation–one person at a time.

That is why leadership development is not an event. It is a process of participating in respectful conversations where the leader recognizes his or her own feelings and those of others in building safe and trusting relationships. For human beings, feeling deeply is synonymous with being alive.

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