Chapter 2: Leadership is being something.

Being something and not acting something can be difficult to do. Throughout our lives we are asked to present ourselves in a certain way, to act appropriately and meet social expectations. In this video by Ken Robinson, a video about not just protecting our climate, but protecting our human potential. He highlights that most people endure, not enjoy what they do.

Traditional leadership is about gravitas, presentation and influencing. A somewhat aloof and privileged persona required to truly hold a senior role. But what if the most influential form of leadership is to be yourself, to interact on the same level as your team and to resonate with the sense of the culture around them.

If I think about the Myers-Briggs personality matrix and Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs, then I envision people in an organisation succeeding at being themselves in a culture that serves their true needs. A safe space to be myself. As a leader, and as a member of the team. Ricardo Semler speaks of a company with no rules, in this video, a company where people deliver in a free environment. Imagine being able to choose what you do and how you do it, as well as who you do it with.

Based on Mazlov’s Hierarchy of Needs, these are the hierarchy of leadership development needs that I have observed:

Work in progress so scruffy but hope you get the gist!

Based on this diagram, a leadership development programme is not just about the training or even the mentoring. It’s about the environment each candidate experiences and how (or if) that environment coincides with their natural strengths. It’s also about whether that environment compensates or gives room for development of their weaknesses, everyone has them, they cannot just be trained out!

Often the same type of people are selected for potential leadership within an organisation. They are not often the introverts which leads to an imbalance in the representation of the quieter people, often predominantly thinkers. It’s worth thinking about The Power of Introverts before identifying your next group of leadership talent! The thinkers may need a different environment for growth, not so much talking, more development of concepts and theories to share with their colleagues once mostly formed.

Once we acknowledge that leadership is not a single skill or attribute, we can start building truly diverse senior management groups. Groups that integrate diverse personalities, alongside gender, race, age and religious diversity. Once we have diversity in this way, our decisions, biases and strategy are less skewed to unconscious bias and more accurately reflect the world we live, giving every individual a chance to succeed.

The rest of my book Leadership Now. is published here:

For tickets to the related talks, please click here:

Kind regards, Ruth


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