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Be At Your Best, More of the Time

You're a human being, not a human doing! First and foremost, leadership is about who you're being.

Leadership is first being, then doing. Everything the leader does reflects what he or she is. Warren Bennis

Our state of being is the real source of our ability to influence the world. Howard Gardner

Today, the perception of leadership is based on what individuals do rather than as an expression of who they are. For this reason, most books on leadership are studies of executives which look for similarities and common traits. The reality is that you could take any group of people and find common threads of leadership - these are not necessarily restricted to company heads. These common threads are then 'taught' on courses with the underlying belief that if these are what leaders do, others can also be leaders by doing the same things.
People cannot be moulded to be the same. Becoming a leader is an individual process and fundamental to the process is 'learning'. However, the learning is not through 'training' alone, but through personal experience and learning from that experience. When learning from experience occurs, it involves looking inwards at who we are. It means a deep awareness of who we are and the sort of human being we want to become. Once we know this, it can be expressed in our relationships and actions at work. Hilarie Owen

In the West, we tend to underestimate the importance of a person's way of being. We focus instead on his or her knowledge, skills or techniques. Yet, whenever people stand out in a particular domain, they are recognised as "being" a leader, "being" excellent, "being" creative, "being" effective, or "being" understanding. In most cases in our society, people don't ask the question "How do I 'be'?" when it comes to learning. They think in terms of "What do I do?" and "How do I do it?". This makes sense in teaching simple skills or practices. But it becomes limited when we try to apply the same principle to learning certain roles like leadership or coaching. Though we may be able to describe or explain what great leaders, coaches, or teachers do, the source of their actions often lies beyond such descriptions and explanations.

It's no accident that in may spiritual traditions, like Tibetan Buddhism or the martial arts, the master teaches the student both the spirit and the standard practices of the domain. Those who are able to embody the teacher's way of being, along with the skills and techniques, become part of the lineage. They become the next generation of masters, teachers, or coaches. It is their responsibility to pass on both the technical and mystical sides of the equation. For over 10,000 years, this is the way most things have been taught in human culture; but in Western society we have separated the process of developing a way of being from the process of learning. In most management books, articles, and courses there is little or no importance placed on how you have to "be" in order to excel at something: the emphasis, rather, is on skills and practices. The typical management seminar is more likely to lead to colourful plastic binders full or information and a list of "how to's" than to an alteration of a person's way of being.

Robert Hargrove Close
Such leaders are more values-driven, more flexible and informal, and more open and frank than leaders of old. They are more connected to people and to networks. Most especially, they exude resonance: they have genuine passion for their mission, and that passion is contagious. Their enthusiasm and excitement spread spontaneously, invigorating those they lead.
Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee Close
In the art of leadership, the artist's instrument is the self... Ultimately, leadership development is a process of self-development.
Kouzes and Posner Close