The Leadership Test: Genuine or Adulterated?

The Leadership Test: Genuine or Adulterated?

Tests are a part of life and are not unique to just leaders.

You go out everyday and other road users just push your buttons: the traffic lights change abruptly, the other driver cuts you off and even has the guts to swear at you, the passenger next to you on the bus/train just wouldn’t stop yapping at the top of his voice, the lady with the double buggy blocks the door way and is just chatting away mindlessly on the phone. You parent your kids and your sanity is sometimes dangling on a thread: there’s water on the floor of the kitchen and no one admits to doing it or attempts to clean it up, there’s wall art on your freshly painted wall and your three-year old happily drags you there to show you her creative design, your house smells really lovely and familiar only for you to get to your room and find your adorable son standing in front of your dressing table with now empty bottles of your perfumes and an apologetic look on his face. You work with colleagues and you wonder why everyone just has to get on your nerves: your team is lagging behind on the project, you’ve just been summoned because of a false allegation, you are constantly being micro managed as a team leader and it’s getting more and more frustrating. You reckon everyone else has got it in for you so you find a way to squeeze in that ‘me time’ for yourself; but even then, you find out that your own thoughts have it in for you too.

Ever so often our patience, character, identity, loyalty, etc., is tested. Because of who we are and the roles we occupy, we are constantly tested–consciously or unconsciously. These tests are real life scenarios that acts as indicators to our growth and development levels. They draw unmistakable lines between who we were, who we are and who we are becoming. They determine how genuine or adulterated we are in terms of our relationship with ourselves and with others.

Every leader’s presence, quality, ability, intelligence, skill, character, capacity and resilience will be tested before and during his/her existence as a leader. You’ll be constantly tested in 3 main areas at almost every point of your leadership journey and these areas are:

  1. Provision. Needs and wants are common features of demand and your position enables you to play a significant role in offering supply to these two features. Your tests in this area tend towards how you use your position to either get what you want or to supply what is needed. You need to realise that it is not just about satisfying your ‘appetite’, it’s mostly about sustaining your existence. Don’t be too hasty to get what you want at all cost, only for you to end up begging for what you need.
  2. Protection. The importance of your reputation as a leader cannot be over-emphasised. You do need to protect yourself but at what cost? and what exactly are you protecting and from what? Are you willing to bring someone else down in order to protect yourself? Do you constantly control everything just to drive home the point that you are in charge?
  3. Power. You’ve probably heard of such a term as : ‘power drunk’. Leaders are at risk especially of using their position to cripple others. With leadership comes authority and power no doubt; but not in the way it is sometimes used ( I explained power and authority in my book: Leadership Maxims…sound principles for leadership excellence). Your role is not a tool for tyranny or assault, neither is it a vehicle for the deception of others into blind and selfish submission.

Every now and again you’ll be tested in these 3 areas and what you discover will help you realise who you really are; whether you are an authentic leader or an adulterated leader.

Until next time, continue to;

Lead right and Live light

Belinda

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The Investment Dilema

The Investment Dilema

Investments are a necessity for Survival, Success and Significance (I like to refer to these 3 S’s as the three levels of living). There’s an age old saying that goes thus: “the time to plant, and the time to harvest that which has been planted will never cease”. Nothing could be more true!

As long as we remain alive on this earth, there will be investments made and there will be returns on investments made; that is the cycle of life and it is what keeps it going. Last week, I talked about how investment is the reason why we hurt so much when we suffer loss and it’s true. An investment of your time, resources and effort towards a person or a cause is what makes you hurt so much when you lose him/her/it and this is because you have poured out of what you are into that person or cause. You have planted a seed and now you have no harvest to gather; you’re in deficit (I guess that’s why it’s called loss by the way…hmm) and trust me, that hurts like…

Point to note: The level of investment made determines your level of connection to that person or cause; and this is what sets the level on your ‘pain-o-meter’ when the loss occurs.

Just like the food example I gave last week, you cannot decide to stop investing in life simply because you fear what might happen if you reap loss. A farmer who decides not to plant or rear livestock because he/she fears that he/she will suffer loss can hardly be called a farmer. Not only will such a farmer struggle to survive but he/she will also never succeed and will never get the fulfillment of living a life of true significance.

Survival, Success and Significance are the three levels of living that apply not only to leaders but to every individual alive; and in order for us to experience a well-rounded life on these three levels, investment is a must. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose but we cannot afford not to invest because of the fear that we might lose some. A farmer knows that not all the seeds he/she plants in one season will produce a bountiful harvest but that does not stop him/her from diligently planting from one season to the next. The only reason he/she is called a farmer is because of the regular investments made. The only reason you are who you claim to be or who your role defines you as; is because of your investments. A director, a manager, a mother, a farmer, a teacher, a father, a pastor, you name it; all of these roles exist because of the investments made on a regular basis.

Loss should not stop you from constantly investing, neither should disappointments nor rejection; for when you stop investing in any area of your life, you stop any chance of reaping a harvest in that area of your life. You might not have all you want right now or you might have lost someone or something of great importance to you. Whatever the case might be, you still have seeds to sow, you’re never at that point where you cannot invest something. Whatever position you are in right now is an opportunity to invest. Invest in: your business, your spouse, your children, your mentees, your team members, your congregation, your clients, your customers, your students, etc., and keep the cycle of life going. The seeds you sow today will be your abundant harvest tomorrow. In order words, the investments you make today, will be the profits you enjoy tomorrow.

Now that you know this about investment, you can either choose to cower in fear, refuse to invest and live a frustrating mediocre life; or you can step out in courage, consistently invest and predominantly enjoy a successful and meaningful life. The choice is yours!!!

Until next time, continue to

Lead right and Live light

Belinda

WHY? The Famous Question

WHY? The Famous Question

Last week, I said I was going to explain why this happens: “With every loss, you feel like a part of you has been chipped away. The more close to home the loss is, the bigger the chunk it seems to take from you”.

We’ve been looking at the issue of loss for the past two weeks and we’re continuing today. Leaders experience loss at different levels and in different areas of their lives and regardless of whether it is a personal or a professional loss, it creates a void that cannot be ignored. For those of you that have ever experienced any kind of loss that affected you in one way or another, please keep reading (and make sure you read the two previous posts).

Loss is no respecter of persons, it visits the rich as well as the lowly, the renowned as well the obscure, the intelligent as well as the ignorant, the strong as well as the weak–and all else in between. I’m almost as sure as I can possibly be that for most of you reading this, you’ve experienced some form of loss that has really left you shaken, wondering and/or probably asking the most famous loss question: WHY?

Maybe you’ve just lost a loved one and it feels like the world has stood still for you. It could be that you’ve just lost a large sum of money to a business deal gone bad and you can’t see how you’ll ever bounce back from this. This might not even be about death or resources for you; it could very well be that your child has just left home because of some issues at home and you know that you might never get back that parent/child relationship you’ve always wanted ever again. Perhaps you’re in a position where you’ve lost your spouse to a separation or a divorce and you fear that you might never experience marital bliss ever again.

Whatever the case may be, you’ve lost something and you feel this void–if it were just the void, it might even be easier to deal with–but it’s not just the void; it’s the pain, the hurt, the guilt, the regrets, the anger, the vulnerability and sometimes the confusion. It’s all these emotions tearing at you, each one wanting to establish its right to remain and take center stage.

Why does this happen though? Why can’t we just loose someone or something and just deal with it and move on without having to go through any process at all of acceptance and/or healing?

Here’s your answer: Investment!

Investment is the reason we suffer loss and feel like a part of us has been chipped away. It’s the reason the closer to home the loss is, the bigger the chunk we feel has been chipped. Your investment of time, resources and relationship is what makes you the perfect candidate for all these emotions to come flooding in when you experience loss; it’s what makes it necessary also for you to give yourself time to accept, heal and then reposition. Having said this, does this now mean that we avoid making investments in order for us to protect ourselves from experiencing the effects of loss? Now that’s ridiculous! It’s like saying: “I will not eat anymore because I realise when I eat, it just goes in one way and comes out another way”, or: “I cannot keep spending money and time to buy food if all that happens is that I lose it at  the end of the day”.

We’ll continue from here next week, until then continue to;

Lead right and Live light

Belinda