- …Lead where your feet are
The mandate for leadership and ruling happens at the presence, possession and mastery of space. In the scripture Joshua 1:3 – Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised Moses. The scripture speaks about mandate, dominion, ruling and leadership. It is so important that the context of the power to lead and influence is placed on ones feet to be present in that environment.
True leaders are often identified by their ability to cause a change where they find themselves or the space they occupy. The question is, what is the prevailing condition of where you find your feet now in your organisation? Are you waiting on those with titles as heads and leaders to bring and cause that change even though they seem to be failing?
You know that there is a great leader within you and you have the tools to provide guidance to those around you. But do others perceive you as a leader? Leadership is a language, the hidden power of what you say and what you don’t is critically placed under your feet where you are.
The feet of the leader explores different ways to influence others while displaying the best leadership qualities. Leading where your feet are is to learn to walk the talk and role-model the behaviour you want to see in others. It looks at how you can create a culture of accountability by first role-modeling your own personal accountability.
Leadership has been more challenging, obviously, and the pace of change keeps increasing insurmountably; and the ability to adapt quickly and proactively lead through the uncertainties are greatly needed in today’s world to offer timely solutions. The demand for selfless and effective leadership is a call for leaders to not only think but also lead on their feet. Leading where our feet are is a God-purposed instruction to utilise our potential and talents to rule, dominate and cause a leading change in spite of our official titles and roles in our various institutions and organisations. We would explore through this series the human anatomy and the means to use its elements for leadership impact and change. Let’s do “Purpose unleashed…lead where your feet are”.
Would you like to be a leader who walks the talk? Are you really exuding the qualities that you embody and showing up as your best self? Whether you move across your organisation to shake a hand, work to provide the culture of your organisation or do not seem to find your bearing, it is your time to lead.
The Anatomy of the leader:
There is no perfect leader; leaders truly come in all shapes and sizes. Practical experience by the doctor will tell us that to understand the basic workings of the body parts, their roles and how they function is very important. While the bodies are different, the anatomy is the same. Similarly, though the style, approach and specific skills of leaders are different, the anatomy is the same. Understanding elements of the body relative to leadership functioning will provide the impetus for leaders to lead effectively. Let us explore what leaders can make of body parts:
Feet – People want to be led by those who lead by example. The best leaders walk their talk. They do the right things for the right reasons and are willing to be observed as an example. This point borders on integrity as a key functionality of leadership.
Hands – The best leaders are willing to roll-up their sleeves and go to work. While they are willing to undertake their own work and priorities, they are willing to help their team when needed. They humbly bring their skills and experience to these situations in a helpful not overbearing or controlling way.
Fingers – They have a soft touch and can keep a check on the pulse of the team and organisation. While they rely on their senses from other body parts, they stay in touch; and their proximity and presence makes a difference for their team-members and the results they achieve.
Shoulders – The purposed-mandate leader knows that while much responsibility can and should be shared, they also understand that the buck stops at them. Their shoulders are broad and strong, willing to support that responsibility and allow their team and organisation to thrive irrespectively.
Eyes – They notice what is going on around them. They watch and notice. Their ability to see what is in front of them is important, but their vision stretches beyond that. They also have excellent distance vision. They can see farther ahead and can help others see what they see as well.
Ears – They use their ears to listen, not just hold up their glasses. They listen to customers, they listen to peers and their bosses, but most of all they listen to their people. They realise that to engage others they must encourage their input and engagement…and then they must stop and truly listen.
Lips – He is a good communicator whether speaking to a group or any individual. They have learnt to speak in ways that messages are both sent successfully and also received. Though they constantly engage in communication, they also know when to shut up and rely on their ears to improve their effectiveness and communication success.
Head – They are continual learners and consistently and intentionally working to build their skills and knowledge. Since they know that being a great leader is a journey, they get on and stay on the path. They use their head to think through problems and make reasoned decisions based on facts as well as feelings.
Heart – Their heart of leadership is about leading others with full emotional balance to the role. They understand that people follow people that care, and people want to be led by people who believe in them and the organisations mission. Therefore, they lead by developing a big, strong heart to accommodate everyone.
Too often, we are busy looking for the next thing. The problem is that our experiences tend to be shallow. We miss out on the richness of being in the moment. The solution lies in being present, focused, committed and hardworking at creating a path to finding success and fulfilment. In today’s electronic connectivity world, we as leaders grow physically further and further apart from the people we lead and count on to propel our organisations to new heights. The advent of e-mail, webinars, video conferencing, mobile devices and the vast array of social media create an electronic umbilical cord connecting us to the virtual world, but it can paralyse us from interacting in the physical world. As leaders, we must never miss an opportunity to get up, get out and talk to our team-mates face to face – that is, to lead with your feet.
Must we, however, change the foot if the shoe doesn’t fit? Certainly not; and as Lori Wren puts it: “We must keep our mind where our feet are”. Meanwhile, it is worth mentioning the quest for revolutionary socio-economic change being pursued by global economies, organisations and society: but serious challenges regarding the mentality of begging bowl, competitive ineptitude, unfriendly business environment, unwise policies and visionless leaders are great contributory factors in unearthing the next generation of leaders to be equipped.
Chasing the Dream for leadership:
All our life goals begin with dreams. But dreams are subjective and imaginary in nature. Not all dreams turn into reality by themselves. It requires intent and contributions from our bent to pursue the dream to become a reality. It requires setting goals and taking actions. It is said that a written-down dream with dates becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed with action makes the dream a reality.
The Motivation, Ability and Attitude needed to chase the dream and become a leader remain key factors for achieving the goal. Our strong inner drive, the right attitude and insatiable thirst for the knowledge that strengthens our abilities can help in achieving our goal to lead effectively. Nevertheless, if our motivation and attitude are not right, then we cannot move forward or can slow down our progress toward achieving our desired ambition or goal.
Turning the dream into reality (Key factors for Successfully Achieving the goal)
Ability – Identify what you can do and recognise what you could do. Seek opportunities, take risks, stretch yourself and be creative.
Motivation – Acknowledge what you need to do and plan what you will do. Be proactive, flexible and acquire new skills and knowledge. Take action and be constant.
Replenish – Place investment in your emotional and physical bank accounts. Give your all, grow, develop and stretch yourself.
Attitude – Celebrate what you do and how well you do it. Accept mistakes, review and evaluate, take actions and be consistent.
Build – Network and support systems, accept mistakes, work smart and always review and evaluate. It works great magic.
Finding Purpose, answering the question why
In our comfort zones we feel safe and in control, and many have not attempted to move to their next stage in life due to fear. They often find excuses, lack of self-confidence and the fear of being affected by others’ opinions. As we allow fear to limit us, we cannot move to the area of learning where we may deal with challenges and problems, acquire new skills and extend our comfort zone to a learning environment. To find our purpose and be able to lead where our feet are and see growth is to set new goals, conquer our objectives, find purpose and live our dreams.
The Feet of a Leader
With so many distractions, it is harder today than ever to be where your feet are. It has never been more important than for now. Leading by the feet is about leading the moments we have where and when we have them. To be more present is to observe the following processes:
Find perspectives – This is the foundation on which we build a life wherein we can be where our feet are.
Seek authentic feedback – How you live is truly a choice. What you are going to do and who you are going to do it with, these are choices only you can make.
Cultivate reflective strength – Our ability to have more meaning is right here in front of us, but so are the distractions; and too often the distractions rule the day.
Live your leadership constitution – We must be committed to some guideposts in our lives. We need the reinforcement in terms of what we stand for, what matters most and what we prioritise; and through those things, we can be where our feet are when it counts.
Change the Race
Again, to lead where our feet are is to constantly ensure a change of race. That is to say we recognize the fact that we have a choice to change the situation. We must be seen to run toward the storm instead of away from it, and find the centre with the help of people we care about and who care about us, too. The most critical things to keep in mind should include knowing when you need to change the race you are running, and not shifting down.
Assume positive intent
Your ability to be effective in your leadership career is determined by your preconceived thinking and notions. Once they are removed of all clouded negativity and biases, they have the urge to impact our ability to be effective and successful.
Trust the process
In a world now dominated by instant gratification and obsessed by the spotlight, trusting the process is the commitment that you will keep the long-term view at the forefront of your planning and decision-making. Trusting the process is about understanding the mistakes and taking time to revisit what went wrong and why, and then leveraging that information to get smarter and make better decisions in the future.
Failure, it is said, is a better teacher than success. Failure is a more effective teacher than success. It is critically important to be a student of life. It is advised therefore that we stop competing, stop pressing so hard – but rather open ourselves up to people and learning. Stop proving what you know and begin to express what you are intellectually curious about.
In the words of Sarah Young: “When I gave you my spirit, I empowered you to live beyond your natural ability and strength”. It is obvious each one is endowed with great potential and skills for leading, taking dominion and making impacts. However, many are those that are yet to find their life’s purpose to lead in the area of their calling. Such individuals are in our organisations serving different roles and leading different assignments and projects. The keynote message is that purpose unleashed shortens the learning curve and provides a roadmap for the mission to be accomplished easily.
Organisations that desire to become best-in-class work hard at creating leaders in every level of their operations. The logic for this is quite simple; the more leaders, the better the business outcomes. The position does not matter. If you can lead yourself responsibly and remain accountable to everyone in the organisation, it won’t take long until others will start to follow you, because they want to.
True leaders model the behaviour that they want to see in the people they lead and work with. This can happen at any level at any time, even if you don’t have anyone directly reporting to you. If it’s just you, then lead yourself. True leaders have no problem communicating with anyone in the organisation – up, down, across or over functions and departments. They respect the chain of command while building solid relationships with those they share a common interest with, or within those functions and projects where they are most needed or qualified to work. They effectively manage the day to day while also dealing with the daily fires that often accompany the routine. They believe in managing execution, adhering to the plan for implementing proposed strategy.
Moreover, they spend the requisite time with their team; training developing, guiding or coaching them, always working and helping them to get better and succeed. They would never think of leaving their current role without having a capable team-member in place to assume their responsibilities. Because of this, great organisations never fear developing leaders who may eventually leave for a greater challenge or promotion.
The question is, is this how leadership manifests in your organisation? Self-directed and confident? In your organisation, does it start with you? Good leadership is about asking questions, involving others and changing the culture of the organisation for the better.
In conclusion, however, in every good to great organisation, building trust, shared values and commitment to a business partnership is harder in cross-cultural situations – but it can and must be done if the organisation wants to be successful in todays’ world; through relationship building, learning the customs and historical order to create positive impact, and learn from the front and be willing to have a tough stretch. Leaders, on the other hand, must equally know they are human beings first; and while all these body-parts are important to all of us as humans, to leaders they perform other important roles relative to leadership understanding. Leaders must therefore think about their anatomy in this way and challenge themselves to become the leader they were born to be.
Discovery….Thinking solutions, shaping visions.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Frank is the CEO and Strategic Partner of AQUABEV Investment and Discovery Consulting Group. He is an Executive Director and the Lead Coach in Leadership Development and best Business Management practices for Discovery Leadership Masterclass.
Dr. Genevieve Pearl Duncan Obuobi is the Lead Consultant on Cx. Leadership & SME, Country Chair, Ladies in Business