Leadership images are unhelpful
Marketing uses adventure sports to sell a picture of leadership that is both glossy and flawed. To see what I mean, go Google “images of leadership in climbing” — see what what I mean? Dangerous!
This is not good leadership, it’s marketing. Photoshopped, staged, improbable individualism.
The reality of leadership is much less glossy, less Hollywood, and at the same time far richer, more nuanced and interconnected.
What servant leadership looks like
So let me offer you another picture, as a climber and a leadership coach. A more powerful, more aspirational one; one that better represents modern leadership.
Here we can see real acts of leadership from climbers.
Serving others’ success
- holding the ropes for others’ climbs
- catching people’s falls (making failure safe)
- working in service of your partner’s goals
Cheerleading others’ endeavours
- championing, acknowledging, witnessing the efforts
- offering perspective from your balcony position
- generating options
partnering with stronger climbers than yourself
giving the spotlight to others
being ready to take the lead, when necessary, when asked
caring personally, challenging directly
“your last piece of protection has fallen out”
“you’re looking at a ground-fall there, put some protection in”
“you’re off-route — go up to the left”
Leaders achieve their results through others. So putting your efforts toward those others – having the purpose of being of service to those others – is where your attention is best placed.
Opportunities for acts of servant leadership abound, at every level. They usually focus on the success of others.