Leadership is Not About You

Once you identify yourself as a leader, even when you are working on your Character, Competence, and Discipline, the 3 qualities of Self Leadership under the Purpose-Driven Leadership Development Framework, your personal development is still a means to an end.

That end is being the type of person that can carry the weight of leading others.

You come to your position of leadership for the purpose of being the vessel that will help people, organizations, industries, economies, the world progress forward towards a set vision.

Once you are responsible for helping others to deliver, you shift from investing in yourself for yourself. As far as you have accepted the responsibility of leading others, even your personal growth is to the service of those that must thrive for the mission to excel and the vision to succeed.

In leadership, the focus turns to your team’s technical competence, not yours. As a leader, you seek to publicly recognize and promote the stars you work with, not yourself. As leaders, we must be mindful of complimenting, and not competing with those we have the privilege of stewarding to greatness.

Having served under a most insecure leader that had 5 managers (me being one of them) and our reports walking on eggshells, it was baffling how our Director could not see that the more members of the team that excelled, the more celebrated and revered the leader under which they served would be.

I don’t know what your career or business development goals are, I don’t know what professional development you want to pursue. If you mean to develop as a leader in your organization or industry, you will need to invest just as much, if not more, in leadership competencies that will help you help others to deliver results.

This is a lesson I learned the hard way when, as the Group Managing Director of 5 businesses, I signed up for a professional certification course in an area that was critical across our consulting portfolio. Two days into the program, I lost interest and could not wait for the remaining 4 days until we were done. Then, I realized why.

During the morning break that day, I called my colleague, who was the Managing Director of one of our businesses, and confessed how absolutely disconnected I felt on that program because I realized that it was her and not me that was supposed to be on it.

Given the nature of her work and her professional strengths, she would have not only enjoyed the experience, but also maximized her learning to deliver exceptional results for our clients, team, and organizations.

I had enrolled in a program to develop myself without stopping to think of the vision, goals, people, and clients under my leadership. Had I first done that, it would have been clear to me that developing myself in a technical area that I would not be executing on, was not the most strategic move I could make. It was better suited for a leader that would have applied that training in their daily work and even become a trainer for colleagues that worked on assignments that required that expertise.

Lesson learned. From that day on, I made sure that we identified needs, allocated budgets, and invested in developing the skills our businesses needed at the appropriate level and to the most relevant person in the organization.

It taught me that leadership was not about me, and that my primary focus was to help those under my leadership to thrive and drive results.

Sure there is a place to learn something new and to broaden your horizons, but it should not be at the expense of the most critical role you hold - that of a leader.


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