“The leader needs three intellectual abilities that may not be assessed in an academic way: one needs to have a sense for the unknowable, to be prepared for the unexpected, and to be able to foresee the unforeseeable,” so says Robert Greenleaf in his book The Power of Servant Leadership.
Sounds like a tall order, almost like a description of a super hero right out of the comic book pages. But a second reading reveals that at sometime in all of our lives we are that super hero.
Who are you leading? A company department, a small business, your family, yourself? Your ability, and your willingness to step up, trust your intuition and make a decision for you and those who look to you for direction defines your leadership.
Ralph Waldo Emerson talks of a ‘Blessed Impulse’, listening to that inner voice and going with it, all voices to the contrary. Is that the still small voice, the almost silent whisper that we grow to trust to be God whispering in our ear? How often do you ‘go with it, all other voices to the contrary’?
Taking leadership, regardless of the position you hold, requires a certain amount of abandonment. Taking a risk. In so many places people are looking for (someone else) to step up and lead. Scientist Mathilde Krim said “Growth requires curiosity to experience both the difference and the synchrony, to explore and immerse yourself in new surroundings, to be able to contemplate your experiences and get something out of them”. To simplify: doing the same old same old every day, not experiencing new things, not asking questions and not reflecting and learning from your experiences will stunt your growth. It will also block your leadership opportunities.
And leadership is anything but the same old same old. Greenleaf tells us: Every once in a while a leader finds himself needing to think like a scientist, an artist, or a poet. And his thought processes may be just as fanciful as theirs – and as fallible. Leaders are not superheros, they make mistakes, but they are willing to make mistakes, show their humanness and fully express themselves in the process.