What is leadership? Instead of pointing to a leader, outline a moment when someone you respect engaged in leadership.
Not to cop out, but I really couldn’t say it any better than Seth did: leadership is a choice. This was a notion that started as a seed when I was much younger but, as I have gotten older, the notion and the assumptions and beliefs behind it have grown and grown. If you look – really look – at those leaders who we as a culture admire, one of the common threads that run throughout their story and the impact that they had is that they choose, that they decided to lead.
Someone who I respect who leads is my friend Jamie. Pissed off, disillusioned, playing the victim, and resigning himself to his “fate, he made a different decision: he chose to lead. Through gumption, experimentation, and enthusiasm he created an organization called BioAM whose aim is to promote the diversity and entrepreneurial spirit that makes discovery an innovation possible. I can’t tell you how much respect I have for him and his work.
Next, describe a moment when you chose to lead.
I created a mentoring program that did not have a formal recruitment and training structure: those who want to be a mentor choose to be a mentor. Those who don’t do not. But it thrives despite title, tenure, age, etc.
How is it different from the rest of the time, when you are merely managing?
I wasn’t trying to be perfect, to make it right, to make it exactly as “they” wanted it. I followed my own true north and went for it.
Do you agree that leadership is a choice?
Absolutely. I don’t agree: I know it.
Leadership is about making change. A change that might not work. If you do the work alone, you’re an artist. If you get other people to do it with you, you’re a leader. Going forward, then, what is the change you’re trying to make?
I want to expound on this notion that leadership is a choice and to cultivate the inner leader in those who choose to play with this choice.