We have become so conditioned, so used to thinking in a way that says, “Do this and you will be able to …”. This gives us the impression that it is by doing something that we will achieve something. Multimillion dollar training empires have been built on this philosophy.
Such companies have made millions, probably billions, telling people what they should do. In the case of skills training, one cannot fault this argument, as skills are something you have to be taught to do.
But doing is only half of what’s needed to be a leader of significance and authority, someone who enjoys respect and influence by who and what they are and not only what they do.
Leaders who are still stuck in Newtonian thinking battle with this. That’s probably 90% of the world’s leaders in government, business and other organisations. Newtonian thinking has dominated our collective consciousness for the past 300 years so it is no wonder that most leaders think this way.
Newtonian thinking is based on a mechanical model which treats everything as machines which follow a step by step linear way of doing things. A “how to” manual is an excellent example of Newtonian thinking because it says that by following certain steps, you will be able to do something.
While this has been valid until now to explain most things, humanity has evolved to the point where Newtonian, mechanical, thinking is no longer enough.
Doing (mechanics) is no longer enough to make a successful leader. Today, we are starting to understand that it’s not only what we do but what we are (our being) that influences and creates the reality we experience.
In the past, leaders could be whatever they wished to be – often not very nice people – so long as what they did was the right thing. It’s now no longer good enough for leaders to be competent at what they do. They have to be something worthy of leadership as well.
Of course, its’ from our being that our doing, or actions, flow. Learning what a leader should do may help you get the job if you’re being hired by people who have not progressed past Newtonian thinking, but it will not help you for long. Very soon, the people you are leading will see what you are and will respond to that.
Look at politicians who think they’re doing the right things at the moment (in their eyes). You have not for one moment been fooled by what they do because you have looked instead at what they are. We say that actions speak louder than words, but what we are speaks louder than our actions.
If, therefore, you wish to become a leader of authority and influence, don’t focus only on the “how to” steps of leadership. Start also focusing on the “beingness” of leadership. Ask yourself what you need to be as a good leader then develop; those qualities, those states of being, in yourself.
Instead of worrying about doing, prioritise being because it’s from what we are that our actions flow. More simply put, it’s what’s inside that comes out. If you kick over a jar of honey, honey will flow out. If you kick over a jar of acid, acid will flow out. It’s what’s inside that comes out.
What’s inside you? Fear, hostility, greed? That’s what will come out and determine your actions as a leader. If it’s love, kindness and generosity, that’s what will come out and determine your actions for all the world to see.
I urge you to start focusing on improving what you are (your being) and you will find that your actions will follow!
Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net, @HRFuturemag, and a professional speaker. He assists executives to prevent, reverse and delay ageing, and achieve self-mastery so that they can live and lead with greatness.