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Is leadership for self or others?

Is it a leader or leadership, and does it matter?

Is it self-leadership or just leadership? Is it about me or others?

Leader or leadership?

Affectus believes it is all about leadership and everyone understanding that they have the potential to undertake leadership roles.

Leader or Leadership? Leader is about the individual whereas leadership is about the ability, behaviour and action of an individual and or a group.

The title Leader vs demonstrating leadership

The title Leader is often bestowed by others on an individual. "She is our leader; he is leading us”.

Whereas demonstrating leadership is a choice of an individual or a group.

From our research and observations, the role of leader can be transient and can disappear quickly as seen through the demise of Malcolm Turnbull. This doesn’t mean Mr Turnbull can’t go on and demonstrate leadership or claim the leader crown in another role. However, if we, individually or as a group (or party, committee or team), put our focus on the leader rather than leadership then the activities similar to those of 20–24 August can consume our energies. And as a result, those who we might assist become less important or invisible.

Of course, organisations need people in roles and responsibilities. BUT, if individuals are focused only on the role they can occupy then the strategic focus is blurred or can be hijacked. For example, Bill Shorten’s jump in popularity when he has been lagging so badly.

Why does the language of leadership matter?

At Affectus, we believe language is incredibly important.

The University of Washington has a concise paper on the choice of words.

To contextualise the faculties information this is why effective language and words are important.

Choice of words assists with sorting the following:

  • Concrete and specific or vague and abstract
  • Concise or verbose
  • Familiar or obscure

Reflecting on the leadership machinations in the federal sphere the words that were used publicly framed the leadership position of the individuals. (We will never know what happened privately.) Think on Peter Dutton’s press moments; on Malcolm Turnbull’s public statements; on the lack of words from Morrison. What leadership did we see demonstrated?

There is a whole heap of material that we can imagine. However, all we could really count on was what was coming out of mouths in the public sphere. It framed our thinking and gave us insight into future leadership behaviour.

Historically, Australia has witnessed public figures speak words that have gone on to define them, frame them forever. “The Real Julia”, “God Save the Governor General”, “I didn’t inhale”, just to quote a few.

It is so important to consider our words, both written and spoken. Specifically, when we are thinking about leadership and our leadership aspirations.

The concepts of self-leadership and leadership

Therefore, the concepts of self-leadership and leadership are worth considering.

How do self-leadership and leadership differ?

I can remember having a valuable discussion about these two concepts a number of years ago when I was consulting with a number of under-grads about moving through their studies and finding their leadership space. The group of 80 students came to the same conclusion as I had a number of years earlier.

That conclusion was the same leadership principles that I hold as important apply whether I am leading myself or occupying a leadership role within a group.

What do we find when we transfer that thinking to the federal political sphere?

What happens when we extend that concept?

Well, in the words of a retired Federal politician...

"They (the politicians) appear to be morally bankrupt."

How can this be? How could it have come to this?  These are actually all good people…I am completely sure of that. While I don’t agree with them I am sure they are thoughtful people.

I will get off my soapbox in a moment, but actually, I think the understanding of self-leadership and what we all bring to that space and the leadership roles we occupy cannot be separated.

Therefore, if you are motivated only by you and what you can get then perhaps reconsider stepping into the public sphere.

Or, potentially, if you are going to step into a public representative role, find someone to be your compass and keep your ambitions for ambition only in check. Because the people you are representing are reading you... all the time.