Beyond You Leadership

This post was originally published on September 3, 2014 in Leadership Broward Foundation’s LeaderBoard E-Newsletter

"Human beings are made for goodness. They have a commitment to try and make the world a better place." –Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Leadership isn’t about what we do for ourselves – it is about what we do for others.

I was reminded of this recenlty when I had the great opportunity to watch a simulcast of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s recent Leadercast speech. Desmond Tutu is one of the world’s leading human rights activists and a Nobel Peace Prize winner. He is also a living model for beyond you leadership, with his focus on creating positive social change and inspiring others to do the same.

The Archbishop explained that we are all connected as humans and shared how great leaders leverage their leadership for the sake of others.

You are You because of Others

Near the beginning of his speech, the Archbishop made a point that continued as a theme throughout his talk: “A person is a person through other persons.” Wow! This is really powerful. We are who we are because of those around us. We need others to be fully ourselves. As leaders, it’s not just about the work we do – it’s about those who have helped us get to this point. Without the people who have influenced our past, we wouldn’t be who we are today.

The Archbishop went on to say that humans are made for interconnectedness and to be dependent on one another. This is why it is so important for us to treat everyone with equal worth. Brutality undermines our connectivity. After setting this context, the Archbishop shared his tips for how to be a good leader, always keeping in mind the needs of others:

Good Leaders Listen

Good leaders understand they are servants to the people they serve. They listen to the voices of those around them – even those they don’t agree with.

Good Leaders Lead

Good leaders know the way and are in a place to navigate, guide, and support. They realize that all people are interconnected and act for the good of all.

Good Leaders are Accountable

Good leaders admit their actions to all because they have nothing to hide. They don’t make decisions to be popular, and they aren’t blinded by power. Good leaders also know when to retire.

Our ability to be successful as leaders is directly connected to what we do for other people. This goes well past the definition of servant leadership to beyond you leadership. Our leadership will have a lasting impact only if it is about others, not ourselves.

I spent some time thinking about this and had a definitive “aha “moment. I realized that I have the responsibility for taking a more active role in positively influencing those around me – for helping others find and use their gifts to make a difference in this world. This is how I can serve as a beyond you leader.

How can you serve as a beyond you leader?

Jene Kapela, Ed.D.

You can contact Jene at jene@jenekapela.com.