Leadership and a bigger heart

There’s so much said about leadership. And, rightly so. Leadership isn’t a cloak you can wear for a few hours and remove at the end of the day. Once you take up responsibility, you are expected to be accountable for the results of everyone you lead (and this could just be yourself). Everything you do sets an example – one way or the other.

That’s why leadership is so hard to define or teach. It is one of those all encompassing responsibilities that changes you – whether you like it or not.

I have worked hard to understand this beast myself over the years. But, the more time I spend attempting to practice it (key word is attempting – :-)), I go back to a simple idea that Jack Welch shared in his autobiography – “Leadership is simply caring more than the next person.”

Caring, like leadership, has many dimensions – it means caring for your organization’s success, for your team’s success, and for the success of all the folks on your team. Caring means giving without expectations, experimenting without assurances and putting yourself out there expecting to take a few blows. It also means apologizing when it is not your fault and generously sharing credit when things go well. Caring, in its purest form, isn’t easy.

Caring is also the reason that leadership, when done right, is a thing of beauty. It isn’t a race to dominate, to stamp authority, to command or to show bravado. It is simply a race to care more. As a result, it isn’t, as one might expect, just a victory of a bigger brain or of iron will or of steely determination.

At its core, great leadership is a triumph of a bigger heart.