“Leader” is an oftentimes confusing description, or title, that someone has or is given because they hold a positional leadership role. It is confusing because leadership is defined differently by so many people and expectations of a leader are thus defined differently as well.
Let’s simplify it. Yes, there are plenty of descriptive adjectives that leaders need to have and competencies that seem to be ever increasing in our day and age, but regardless of the position, a leader’s responsibility basically boils down to three things: Inspire, Equip, and Transform.
Inspire: To be driven by purpose, having a vision that is bigger than themselves and being internally and passionately motivated with purpose toward that vision. To be values driven and intentional in the pursuit of that vision. It’s making decisions and driving results to make an impact on what you’re pursuing to make an impact in.
Inspiration isn’t about being charismatic, but rather it’s about a passionate pursuit that connects to the hearts and minds of others and draws them to be a part of the journey. That passionate pursuit has a charisma all of its own. And it moves people and progress.
In today’s life and world, finding people, let alone leaders, who inspire can be a difficult challenge. Life and work and responsibility and expectation hits so fast and furious that most are focused on taking care of self and taking care of their own. We miss others often. And we often miss the larger picture, and the deep and lasting purpose behind the life and work and responsibility and expectation. We are chasing the wrong things, or at least with the wrong motives, and it doesn’t connect or inspire others to align and passionately come on board. It doesn’t inspire others to live any differently forward.
Most people are looking for inspiration because they see so much around them that isn’t, and they truly want to be a part of something and aligned with someone with inspires.
Equip: In order to adequately and accurately equip others, you have to fundamentally know two things: (1) what is needed for the work at hand and the work ahead and (2) you have to know your people and understand them.
You have to be competent, and you have to build relationship. Equipping is developing, training, and providing for others, so they can be successful at who they are and what they are working to accomplish while aligning with the organization’s purpose and vision. For that equipping relationship to develop, you have to be seen as both trustworthy and having some measure of competence in what you are doing that others can and will receive what you know.
One of the greatest challenges to leaders equipping, is a cost vs. value mindset. What are we wasting vs. what are we investing? This is not a right vs. wrong scenario, but a both/and necessity. For many, the default is cost driven, bottom line focused decision making. And that’s a piece, but not the whole. Focusing on cost only without focusing on the value of will leave you less than the potential and possibility of, and will limit the fullness of those that are with, alongside, and for you as a leader.
Transform: Through inspiring and equipping others, leaders help to transform people, process, organizations, communities, and culture. Transformation is a direct impact from the leader, and it is multiplied when the leader empowers others to inspire, equip, and transform (be leaders themselves).
Transformation itself is an inside-out process. It doesn’t happen overnight and it never ends. It’s changing from what is to what could be. It’s more than merely going through the motions or having somebody doing something because they have to. It’s not window dressing and it’s not lipstick on a pig. It’s lasting change. It’s newness and new focus from the inside-out. It’s being on a different path and targeting a different type of destination.
The responsibility of leaders at any level is to Inspire, Equip, and Transform. It is a responsibility that needs to be defined and embraced by all levels of positional leadership within any organization, within any community. It is a responsibility that defines and distinguishes an organization from others and it will have the impact that they are striving every day for.