Who is a Practicing Leader?
Harry Truman, the 33rd President of the United States once said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” I have been in leadership roles in family, school, work, and community service for over 20 years and have found that I learn something new every day about leadership as a practicing leader. Being a leader is not a destination, you are not given a title and become a leader. I would even go far as to argue that many people in leadership roles are not, in fact, leaders. Instead, they may even be dictators, authoritarians, narcissist, psychopaths, or taskmasters.
True leadership is a lifelong journey of learning and connection and will never be complete. As long as there is a cause, a group of people, or anything worth fixing or improving, there will be roles for leaders. Society’s problems are becoming increasingly complex and despite new technologies, there will always be a call to leaders to help solve problems and envision a brighter future.
Like practicing law or medicine, the latest innovations, tools, or research may change over time. A good practitioner will adapt those tools to continue to improve the lives of the people they lead and accomplish new frontiers that nobody thought was possible. In other words, a practitioner will not be set in their ways and will take any help they can get. A practicing attorney or doctor commits to lifelong learning because their mission in life is not to practice law or medicine in on particular way, but to pursue social justice or to save more lives.
Like the practicing doctor or lawyer, the practicing leader is constantly looking for tools to help them achieve their mission be it to advocate for a cause, to do their work more efficiency, or lead in new ways that brings value to more and more stakeholders in their endeavors. The worst thing a leader can do is think that they have no more to learn about leadership. That is when the period of discovery and curiosity ends. When that happens, in many ways, that leader is no longer equipped to lead.
As leadership is fundamentally about creating positive change, being a practitioner of leadership changes frequently as well. That does not mean that leaders do not have a strong foundation in education, philosophy, and values. In fact, those foundations are pre-requisites for leaders. Instead, it means that leaders take the time it requires to build that foundation and with it comes the intuition most leaders need to be successful. This blog is designed to content for leaders to engage together as practitioners.
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