By: Valerie Ling
When you think of a leader, who comes to your mind? It’s not just the corporate or national leader. I would include teachers and parents as examples in this list.
Leadership is a process. Anyone can fit this role. Anyone can develop in this role. Some of us will need help and ongoing coaching to remain in this role.
I once wrote on an application that I was an unwilling leader. This relates to being an unwilling business owner. I struggled being a parent of very young children. And I do not enjoy the teaching aspects of clinical supervision.
I soon realised that I equated leadership with being responsible for the formation, growth and outcomes of other people. This pushes against my need for freedom and autonomy. Having people who follow you, I thought, meant having people who were highly dependent on you. That sounded like a lot of work.
I have since come to see that this is not the case. A leader facilitates movement. Look at the picture above: who is the potter, who is the clay? If you answered that leaders are the potter and followers are the clay…. well, that’s where I have made a fundamental shift in my thinking. The potter AND the clay belong to the follower. At best we are the wheel.
What keeps us as leaders, is when we facilitate the wheel’s movement, through encouraging growth, inspiration, motivation, and direction. We’re leaders when we see the finished product before our follower sees it. A leader sees all the “pot” can be, and envisions the place that the pot will be placed. A leader inspires service and growth in others and encourages movement towards that picture.
Article supplied with thanks to Valerie Ling.
About the Author: Valerie Ling is a clinical psychologist and consultant with The Centre for Effective Living (a psychology and mental health practice) and The Centre for Effective Serving (a workplace wellbeing consultancy).