As the world continues to develop and evolve and as we grow and change with time, what a “Leader” is takes on very different meanings.
When I was younger, I believed leadership was something earned. It was a badge of honour than you were awarded from your experience and time served. I held leaders in somewhat reverence. They had done it. They had reached the top. They should be almost worshipped for their success.
I myself have more experience now.
I have time served.
But I haven’t done it. I haven’t reached the top. There is no success to be worshipped here.
Yet some might still call me a Leader.
I certainly don’t.
I’m just someone trying to make it through; maybe understand life a bit better along the way.
The way we interact within businesses typically falls into two categories: ‘Work’ and ‘Rest’.
I use the term ‘Work’ to define the measurable, the quantifiable. It’s what will be displayed on your Data & Insights dashboards. It’s what people’s performance and efficiency will be measured by. It’s often how financial reward and bonuses are defined. Sales, Revenue, Profit; to name a few.
‘Rest’ is very different. ‘Rest’ to me is the unquantifiable. It’s the feeling, emotion and sentiment of the people and is very hard to measure. There’s been a few attempts, but it remains largely intangible. ‘Rest’ is about culture, community and support. Did we do the right thing? Did we care for others? Did we help? It’s the softer side of business.
I used to see Leaders as people who had succeeded at ‘Work’. They’d made it to Partner, CEO, Vice President; whatever fancy title you want to put to it. They’d built a commercial business around them and were rewarded, promoted and moved into a leadership position as a result. Their status and awe were earned and celebrated.
I don’t see these people are Leaders at all anymore.
Some may still fall into how I view Leaders, but that’s coincidence, not causality!
Why are these people not Leaders to me?
Well, we’re all expected to ‘Work’ hard nowadays. We’re all expected to deliver results. That expectation exists of all people in a business. Why raise someone to the top for something they’re expected to be doing anyway?
Nowadays, I almost exclusively see Leaders as those who are at ‘Rest’.
‘Rest’ Leaders are those who truly embody a business. They are at peace with themselves; at rest with themselves. They are aware of the work that needs to be done, the tasks that need to be completed, but they are at rest with that too. For them it isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey.
And this is one of the most fascinating things about Leaders at Rest; they don’t need to be in an organisation or even part of a team to still be a Leader.
They can lead from afar because their journey is open to everyone around them; it’s just a journey after all, anyone can watch them as they travel.
Rest Leaders do not need a ‘chain of command’ or ‘organisational structure’ to be a Leader at all. They don’t need a fancy title. They do things their way because of the belief that it is the right way to do things. Their methodology, how they proceed along their journey, is very much driven by their beliefs.
Now belief is a word that means very different things to many different people. Some see it almost religiously. Others see it as a cause to defend. To me, it is just another word for why.
Why are any of us doing any of this?
Why are we choosing to work longer, harder and more consistently than ever before?
Is it just for the money? The promotion? The title? The ‘more’?
For some sure, that might be why.
But not for ‘Rest’ Leaders. Their why, as I mentioned above, isn’t attached to the destination, it’s about the journey.
Their why, whatever it may be, is about making the journey, whatever that journey is, ‘more’ for everyone who travels it. It doesn’t matter about the targets. Be aware of them, sure. But by making the flight path of the arrow smoother and easier, with less friction, for themselves and everyone else, there will be more targets hit over the course of many lifetimes, not just their own.
They lead for others, not themselves.
They lead for everyone.
So, I leave you with the most important thing I have ever learned about leadership.
It’s not about the person. It’s never been about the person.
It’s always been about the journey, the path, the methodology, the why! If you believe in something and care about something, you can lead people.
Anyone can be a leader!
They just need to want, and choose, to be a Leader.
Andy Salkeld, Finance Director – dscvr