In a few hundred years, when the history of our time is written…the most important event historians will see is not technology, nor the Internet, not e-commerce. It is an unprecedented change in the human condition. For the first time – literally – substantial and rapidly growing numbers of people have choices. For the first time, they will have to manage themselves. And society is totally unprepared for it.
Do you think that’s true?
Is it true for you?
I spend a lot of time interviewing business leaders, and I’m often surprised at how disheartened they seem. Sometimes I wonder if this might be why: we have more to think about than ever, and somehow we have to be the ones to make it all work. When they feel disempowered, here’s what leaders tell me.
We are overwhelmed. Just juggling your workload fills every day; add in children, home ownership, personal finances, and the rest of your life, you can feel like you’re ready to collapse.
We are discouraged. Being a leader isn’t always all it’s made out to be. The pressure, the responsibility, and the poor models of leadership in corporate executives and public figures can sometimes make us wonder if it’s really worth it.
We are disengaged. Engagement is the degree to which you feel committed to your job, and it is a critical aspect of performance. Unfortunately, instead of gaining a sense of meaning from our work sometimes we just feel unmoved.
We are needed. As leaders we don’t always get what we need, but our businesses desperately need us. Nevertheless, we live in the Information Age, and business is driven by our knowledge. As leaders, we are needed to compete.
We are talented. The good news is that despite these challenges, it turns out we’re really talented. Years of Gallup research has proven that we are at our best when we are most ourselves. and it’s clear there’s a lot more potential to be tapped.
We are leaving. Crowded by the pressures of modern leadership, we can’t seem to make it all work. That’s why so many leaders are responding in a quiet, decisive way: they’re taking their marbles and going home. With low set-up costs and instant access to global markets, we no longer need corporate infrastructure to fulfill our ambitions. We can do it on our own. We live in a free agent nation:[i] going out on our own is flexible, it’s freeing, and it’s fun.
But having the opportunity to leave one’s job isn’t always the “win” it might seem. Businesses lose highly talented leaders, and leaders lose their home in the world of work.
What we need is a way for leaders to learn how to be better leaders while at the same time enhancing the quality of life that keeps them at their best. And we do. It’s called Personal Leadership – an aspect of leadership that honors the work leaders do as well as the people they are.
Are you practicing Personal Leadership? Take the quiz to find out! Go to www.TheInnerEdge.com and click on Worksheets and Audios. You’ll find a FREE Self-Assessment to help you understand where you already excel and where you need to put more attention to be effective in leading yourself.
[i] Daniel Pink, Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself (Grand Central Publishing, 2002).