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Original Leadership

A great challenge of leadership is remaining original, some would say authentic. Leaders are often pressed to imitate others who appear to be successful in their designs. This never works because our personality and skillsets are woven into our leadership styles. Attempting to be someone you are not will lead to certain disaster. You will confuse yourself and those you lead.

I often tell a story about a sheepdog entrusted by his shepherd to guard his flock of sheep. One day, the sheepdog saw a horse gallop by and said, "I wish I had a long flowing tail like that horse." The horse heard his request and granted the sheepdog a long flowing tail. Later, a beautiful swan walked by and the sheepdog said, "I wish I had beautiful webbed feet like the swan." The swan his request and granted the sheepdog beautiful webbed feet. Later a beautiful eagle flew overhead. The sheepdog saw the eagle and said, "I wish I had a big beak like the eagle." The eagle heard his request and granted the sheepdog a big, strong beak. Shortly, a pack of wolves descended on the flock of sheep. The sheepdog went to fight off the wolves, but could not run with his webbed feet. He tripped over his long tail and could not bark with his beak. As the wolves attacked the flock of sheep, the sheepdog understood that the attributes that made him strong were the very attributes that he had wished way.

Original leadership means we appreciate the characteristics that make us unique and do not compromise them to be like others. It is also important to remember the process to achieve leadership is different for everyone. You cannot desire a person's position and not desire what they encountered, or how they were trained to get there. Leaders make the mistake of comparing themselves to each other not understanding the courses of preparation each needed to pass while getting ready to lead.

Be content in your assignment and be okay with being different. You will sometimes be misunderstood, ridiculed, and overlooked, but the integrity of your leadership will never be questioned. Be your original, authentic self and watch the people you lead admire, respect, and follow you for who you are.

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