Leadership. It’s not about taking to a lectern and giving glorious speeches, nor is it about heading a team to achieve set targets; it’s not about calling the shots, nor is it about ensuring utmost respect from your family and peers and issuing writs, even if they be for the good of others. Spearheading a team and wielding influence over others are certainly some of practical applications of leadership skills but true leadership ought to be made of sterner stuff, otherwise we’d be categorizing brutal dictators and tyrants as great leaders, wouldn’t we?
What we must realize is that power is a too simple, or rather an unacceptably simplistic, way to perceive and understand leadership. Real strength is not in bending the will of another; the strength of a leader is in making another want to work with you toward a common goal and then stepping up to achieve that. This strength comes from having greater drive, greater motivation, greater willingness to persevere, greater dreams than the ones following you. It comes from within, rather than the juicy and orange carrot dangling in front of you.
We bear the onus to lead our future generations towards an equitable society that values women and men equally, and which respects the roles men and women wish to choose for themselves equally. We can fulfill this obligation by a meaningful and successful stewardship of our own life, whether it entails running a Fortune 500 company, leading an institution of higher education or simply taking care of our family.
Here are some of the things you can do to succeed in this quest
Think about what it means to be you, what makes you special, what lessons you have learnt in life and what core values you think you should abide by in future. When this is clear, start abiding by these core values straight away. If you wish to check you are making the right choices, the answer to all the three following questions should be a clear, emphatic, no: Am I hurting anyone? Am I feeling guilty, ashamed, or let down because of something I am doing? Am I unhappy?
Just as you cannot drive a car by constantly looking into the rearview mirror, you cannot live a meaningful life by living in the past, even if that means just yesterday. Whatever has already occurred has no currency whatsoever except in terms of experience. If the experiences are pleasant, commit them to memory and be grateful for it; if not, learn from it objectively by letting go of the unpleasantness.
In our society, we are never too young to have people around us tell us to be responsible; as a student, as a child, as a teenager and then as an adult! If you study hard and get a good job, you are responsible, if you stay away from rebellious behavior as a teen, you are responsible, if you make a decent living and take good care of your family, you are responsible – except that responsibility is a far bigger concept. Responsibility is a person’s ability to respond suitably to a situation. Its measure is not through outward, material objects but through inner richness and self assurance. It means to accept in that moment the feelings you have, especially the unpleasant ones – be it fear or jealousy or plain and simple malice – accept it first without trying to justify them even to yourself.