Last Saturday I attended the 60th annual conference of the Northland RSA Women’s Section (70th anniversary for the Far North section). I was once again heartened by the beautiful, kind-hearted people who quietly go about making our world a better place and who obviously have lots of fun in the process.
The experience has added to my thoughts on the importance of leadership and what it actually means in this day and age, particularly at a time when I personally struggle to be inspired by some of the current world offerings. When one looks around and takes in what seems to be attracting the attention of the masses, it is no wonder we are where we are – a world on a tipping point.
Google provides a multitude of explanations of what leadership looks like. Some are very insightful. For me, however, it’s simply that our leaders come in all shapes and sizes. Some are out in front and others are tucked in behind. These leaders can be doing the mahi, flying the flag, dealing with the strategy… At the end of the day, true leadership is not necessarily a loud voice, or fancy jargon. It is, I believe, bravely speaking the words that need to be heard, undertaking the actions that need to be taken – all with wisdom and integrity. And, without a doubt, it is being part of the team, because leaders are nothing without the team.
It is said that small acts can change the world, and indeed they have. Which brings me to an important point: we are all leaders in our own right. We all have the power to lead our own lives and not just let life happen to us. Whether we choose to make the most of what we have and find we are an inspiration to others, or we purposely put ourselves out there, the reality is that both approaches are important types of leadership.
One of the great challenges for natural leaders (i.e. those not looking solely for glory), is that they often resist the mantle of leadership. Stepping into the limelight has never been easy for these leaders and, in this era of immediate ‘feedback’, it can be a little soul-destroying too. But that feedback can also be very grounding and useful, especially for evolving one’s approach.
When pondering what makes great leaders, look no further than those beating the drum for their communities. The people who stay awake at night wondering how they can help, how they can touch the hearts of the disconnected, how they can make the day of the lonely and raise the aspirations of all those they care deeply about. These are great leaders. Our natural leaders.