Good leadership flows from a strong core
Followers want to know that the aim toward which they move is important and meaningful, according to Tim Irwin in his book Impact: Great Leadership Changes Everything. Even in the military and the corporate world, which remain organizationally hierarchical, people follow leaders with high commitment only when the leader is profoundly trustworthy and when he or she pursues a clear and compelling purpose.
Most leaders want to make a lasting positive impact, but only a few manage to do so, or falter after initial success. What are the ingredients that make the difference? According to the author, there are three “faces” to a leader’s behaviour: style (the outward face), conduct (the leader’s actions), and core (the inner person of the leader). True engagement of others flows from the essence of who the leader is, so the most critical part of a leader’s development involves building a strong core. Disciplines which help in building a strong core include:
- Self-examination, so that we know the true state of our thoughts, feelings, attitudes and habits
- Self-awareness, so that we understand our strengths and vulnerabilities, including our shadow side
- Practising the responsible use of power, and understanding and avoiding power’s tendency to corrupt
- Humility, so that we avoid overconfidence and arrogance
- Maintaining positive but realistic beliefs about your role and the people you work with
- Listening regularly to our own self-talk, to avoid self-deception
- Practising personal accountability
This is an important book for anyone who holds or aspires to hold a significant position of leadership within a business or non-profit organisation. Before becoming a leader, most people assume that leadership success is about choosing good strategies, making good decisions and taking home a lot of money. Few understand or get warned about how personal leadership is. This book helps to correct this imbalance.