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3 Ways to Fly High with your Leadership!

December 3, 2014

 

3 Ways to Fly High With Your Leadership

I just love to watch birds fly,  especially when they are in a beautiful formation, all in unison, flowing. I’m also fascinated by solo birds—like hawks— so focused, gliding magnificently, swooping downward to check out potential prey and then accelerating upward. Both scenarios are purposeful and very strategic, just like leadership. Flocks stick together and follow their leader for many reasons—to avoid predators, to fly more swiftly and preserve their energy, and ultimately, to make it to their final destination— together. Do they lose their way sometimes? Sure, but those who stray from formation quickly find their way back and are guided by their fellow flock members and their leader. Solo birds also have a very distinct purpose—to find and capture their prey! Not the kind of goal I’d likely set, but quite important for hawks and the like. They are intently focused on ONE thing, and one thing only. Get food! Survive!

I remember driving home one day and seeing this beautiful white hawk with a V tail. I now know that it was a Swallow-tailed Kite. I had never seen one before. It seemed like it was flying closer and closer to my home, where we have several oak trees where many birds play and live. The closer I got to my home I realized the hawk was stalking one of my trees, and more specifically, a new family that had nested there. I had been observing this new family for days now, especially the mother who never left the nest! She was so watchful of her new baby! I began to panic. What can I do? I asked myself. Well, I truly could do nothing. I arrived home, parked, and ran out of my car toward the tree, but I was too late. The hawk had eyed the new baby and within seconds snatched it and accomplished her goal. After my sorrow died down, I questioned, “Could the hawk have successfully completed it’s mission without it’s intense focus?” Probably not.

I think of leadership in a similar way. Over the years I have come to realize that becoming a strong, effective leader means having the ability to do both— (1) be a crucial member of a team where perhaps you are not leading, but following, and (2) stepping forward in leadership and showing others the way. In the world of “personal leadership” this can look like identifying those goals that you need to accomplish solo, with incredible focused energy, like the hawk, while at other times, being that flock leader where you set the vision and guide others along, allowing mistakes to be made.

One of my favorite books is Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach, because it turns on its back the ordinary story of a seagull whose mission in life is to stick with its group and find food. Not Jonathan! He spent most of his time flying alone and pushing himself to limits no other seagull had ever pushed. He just knew his potential, and he was so anxious to reach it. He pushed himself so hard to keep surpassing his last achievement, regardless of fear or failure or injury. I think most leaders can relate to this inner voice— the calling to reach our potential and break the mold of success. It’s such a motivating story. However, the story also is sad, for we know that in his quest to do the extraordinary he also became an outcast for not being part of his flock and participating in the group way of life. Could he have found success if he had done both and balanced his personal and servant leadership?

So, as leaders, how do we both embrace our inner calling for flying solo while also stepping into the magnificence of leading through others?

Here are three tips to get the best out of both our personal leadership and servant leadership:

1. Always work on your personal leadership.

Not everyone agrees with me, but I do believe that we are all leaders. Are some of us born with innate qualities that allow us to lead more effectively? Absolutely. Do some of us need to be more intentional about leading and practice our leadership? Big Fat Yes. But, nevertheless, we were all born to lead in some capacity. Every single day we are afforded the opportunity to lead. To lead our children, to affect our community through our efforts, to set examples for others and share with them what we have learned—good and bad, and to not be victims to life, but make those crucial decisions for ourselves that will push us forward. Just like hawks, we also need to define those independent goals that only through OUR focus and persistence we will achieve. There is nothing more empowering than making a choice for ourselves and taking personal responsibility for achieving it.

2. Always take a back seat.

A beautiful part of leadership is giving the opportunity for others to lead. Sometimes we will and must step forward to guide our flock to our destination, but other times we will ask another bird to take the lead. Not only does it help us to grow leaders and build solid teams to support our vision and work, but it also helps us to be effective by understanding that we can’t and shouldn’t try to know it all and do it all! We all have unique strengths and gifts that should be utilized. The magic in teamwork is allowing each individual to use his/her talents and hone them for the good of all.

3. Always lead the way!

As effective leaders we must know when it is absolutely imperative that we stand in our leadership, in our strengths, in our conviction, and create that vision that will push others forward. Take the time to understand and know what those non-negotiable occasions/situations/moments are for you as a leader. Not everything can be delegated.

So, you may be saying to yourself, “I have to ALWAYS do these three things?” And my answer is yes! Leadership is a dance. Sometimes we dance solo, sometimes we lead the dance, and sometimes we let others lead! We sashe through these three scenarios constantly!

Every day think of how you can do activate all three in your leadership, and you’ll surely be flying high!

It’s your life. Lead it well.

Monique

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