2017 - A Year to Redefine Leadership
Yes, that’s what I propose we do, and I volunteer to get us started.
Leadership has long been defined, in part, by having followers. The logic goes like this:
- Leadership is the ability to inspire or influence others towards a vision and goals.
- Leaders have followers.
- If someone has followers, he or she is a leader.
- If you don’t have followers, you’re not a leader.
These 4 conditions give no consideration to where the leader is taking his/her followers. Is she leading us to evolve our humanity? Is she taking humanity backwards to a more regressed state? It seems to me, the question of whether we are evolving or devolving our humanity matters a great deal and should be included as we redefine leadership.
Leaders of Humanity’s Evolution
According to psychologist Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of Our Nature, human beings have decreased our propensity for violence over time. The dramatic nature of the violence we see in the news, may lead us to conclude we are more violent, but the statistics prove otherwise. If we agree that decreased violence and increased peace is indicative of humanity’s evolution, then it’s fair to say we’re evolving.
If evolving our humanity is a desired goal, and more peaceful actions are an indicator, then real leaders move us in that direction. Wanna be “leaders”, on the other hand, whose words and actions increase violence, are not leaders at all. They’re De-volvers, De-structors, Evolution Reversers. Call them what you will, they are not leading us to evolve our greatest potential. Yes, they have “followers” who amplify the leader’s beliefs, words, and actions. But if those words, actions and beliefs increase hatred and violence, our new definition of leadership will disqualify these hate-mongers from being called leaders. Only those who lead us to seek our highest potential will earn the right to that title.
According to Tara Brach, psychologist, Buddhist and meditation instructor, evolution has a strategy to bring us to our full potential. This strategy includes developing the “heart-mind” which activates our more evolved brain. The more evolved brain:
- Takes a larger perspective
- Has greater empathy, more compassion, and
- Leads to increased collaboration
Increased collaboration is key to solving the complex problems we are encountering in the 21st century, and beyond. This evolution is necessary for our survival. True leaders, in our new definition of leadership, are those who help us evolve our heart-mind.
A New Definition of Leadership
As 2017 unfolds, I suggest a new definition of leadership that goes something like this.
Leadership is a catalyst for the evolution of humanity.
I invite you to play with this definition. Suggest modifications. Reject it. Offer you own definition of leadership. Use the comments section. I promise to respond. Maybe our collaboration will go viral and we will redefine leadership in a way that evolves our collective humanity.