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A leader’s wish list

Leaders tend to be the centre of attention. Wherever they are, they stand out from the crowd. We love hearing about the Clintons and Trumps around us every day. Everywhere – in business and in politics – leaders are in the spotlights attracting attention, whether they like it or not. They are expected to show vision and decisiveness, generosity and fairness, overview and insight, integrity and compassion, and so much more… Leaders carry the burden of a virtually endless list of desired human and professional competencies. In return, they receive power, and sometimes money, to make part of their world grow.

It sounds like a hell of a job, especially today. In our connected world, this long list of wishes is continually being compared to reality. Are you doing well in the eyes of those around you? Are you as strong as you were before? Did you make or break a promise? If you are in the centre of the arena, you are constantly being scrutinized. In the media, leading public figures tend to get the thumbs up or thumbs down quickly from citizens and analysts, who are always evaluating and judging their market value.

This makes it more tempting than ever before to base decisions on perception, although this is dangerous, of course, and can lead to an organization or a society built on the clouds of expectation – as soon as one sets foot on it, one falls right through.

It may be a good idea to look for ways to escape this surreal situation.

And perhaps we should ask ourselves why – in a world where everything is being democratised – leadership is a notion that seems to apply only to a selected few. These days, everything appears to be attainable for everyone and, as civilians or consumers, we are claiming our rights more than ever before – except in terms of leadership. Could it be that we see the leaders we know as enlarged projections of our own wishes and dreams, our own fears and expectations? Or perhaps it is just easier to point out other people’s faults than to put our own house in order?

Perhaps we should try filling in that leader’s wish list for ourselves, and think about how we could realise vision and decisiveness, generosity and fairness, overview and insight, integrity and compassion in our own micro-reality. Leadership does not have to be something that is exclusively reserved for a selected few. It is a democratic right that all of us are entitled to by nature. Every single one of us possesses the power, insight and potential to become a leader in our own lives.

The more people start placing themselves in the centre of their own worlds, the faster that arena will transform into a meeting place for real people and real ideas.