“Doing” vs. “Being” a Good Leader

My mentor sent me an article on the subject of leadership. I found it helpful as I think of myself as a leader. An individual can be a leader without being a manager. The article talks about asking yourself:

  • 5-7-10: where was I when I was 5 years old? What was I doing 7 years ago? Where do I want to be in 10 years?
  • What do you want to be in ten years? Be ≠ president of the company, retired, spending more time with activity X.

Once you realize that “being” a good leader is different from “doing” your job well, live by the following principles:

  • understand yourself
  • understand your context
  • be fully present with a person and understand their needs and concerns; put away your smartphone and turn away from your computer when you meet with others

Leadership is a lot about the other person, but it’s also about yourself. It’s neither one nor the other alone. It makes sense: the title “leader” is a relational term. You can’t be a leader if you’re not leading anyone.

For example, I always catered to everyone’s “needs,” saying yes to every request and burning myself out. I was focused on the people I was leading and their needs, but I had left out the leadership part of my role (me and the cohesive identity of “being” I want for myself), so I was just being thrown about by the many voiced needs of my colleagues. What I needed to do was clearly define how I want to be as a leader and how that helps people most, and then control my own schedule for achieving that.

Doing vs. Being

I think I have moments when I am afraid I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I’m not afraid of the unknown – of adventures and risks and trying something new – I’m afraid of not knowing – what I want, what I should work toward.

However, the point of being mentored is not to do what I want to do – or know what I want to do – but to be and know who I want to be. Being is the real goal. When I am being who I want to be, the doing will naturally come out of it.