Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change; these are three of the best-selling books on the subject of leadership currently trending on Amazon. I’m reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People right now myself. And what I’ve discovered regarding the topic is that most people reading all the popular books believe that leadership is something that has to be learned and gotten from someone or somewhere. But what if leadership wasn’t something that was outside of ourselves that we had to acquire?
In The 7 Habits, we spend a lot of time looking at the way we perceive life, and how our points of view shape, color and skew our reality, which leads me to believe that the thing we call “leadership” isn’t outside of us at all, but something we all possess that’s limited by our view of life. With this in mind, I couldn’t help but wonder whether or not the focus should be on cultivation rather than acquisition.
Relating back to my own experience leading and managing teams for an entertainment start-up, leadership wasn’t something I did or a series of actions taken. It was what I was constituted by. My actions didn’t make me a leader. It was when I said to my employer that I would take on the role of team leader that leadership showed up in the experience of myself, and the actions followed from there.
And when we talk about leadership, we have to be careful not to confuse it with management; although, management is necessary. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, management is “the act or art of managing: the conducting or supervising of something (such as a business).” So while there is no leadership without management, effective management is the benefit or byproduct of powerful leadership, not the feature itself.
And what is leadership without creativity? I suspect that when it comes to entrepreneurship in particular, creativity is everything. Books like The Four-Hour Work Week and Think and Grow Rich highlight the critical nature of introspection and self efficacy because the authors believe that the first step in the direction of leadership and being a leader is the belief and/or declaration that you are that. And you may not feel like a leader, or have any evidence to support this belief. That’s why it has to be a creation, not necessarily something learned or acquired.
Entrepreneurs identify a problem or need, and then they come up with a solution in the form of a business to address that problem or need. A solution that didn’t exist until they created it. Hence, it all begins with creativity and bringing something into existence. It begins with your declaration and vision. Leadership begins with your willingness to lead. It’s not a commodity, but a natural resource to us all.
Former content manager for an entertainment fashion startup.