Leadership and what consistitutes a great leader are things that we all wonder about. Join Hilda Villaverde, author of Blow Dry This! Stories From Behind the Chair, as she looks into leadership…
No one truly succeeds alone. No matter the family issue, business venture, or community undertaking, we are reliant on each other for our survival. That is the beauty of understanding that we are individuals living within a Universe that holds us together with the common purpose to succeed. Of course success is subjective and it means different things to each one of us, but the outcome is the same; success is not what we get, but who we become in the process of living and in our becoming, we need leadership.
We lead our individual lives and when we want to be led, we give ourselves to that person or persons with whom we share a common mission, see a vision, and believe have our best interest in mind. Sequentially many of us become the leaders of others, taking on the responsibility of helping to shape the lives and future of those who have entrusted themselves to us.
I could name a hundred women I know personally who are great leaders. They have made a difference in the lives of their families, friends, co-workers, in their communities, and in the world at large by their commitment to being of service. I am continually impressed by the forward movement of these women who refuse to give up and instead lead relentlessly with a profound conviction that what they do matters.
Over the years I have strived to be a good leader and have often pondered the question; what decisive factors constitute a good leader? I have read a number of books and articles, and have listened to lectures to try and capture the essence of great leadership. I have learned that a good leader improves their life outwardly by first improving their life inwardly. I have also come to understand that a great leader does not stand at the top of the mountain, but instead stands among the people and helps to get others to the top. But the most impressive piece of knowledge on the subject that I came across was an inspiring lecture by the late Jim Rohn about the difference between Charisma and Character in Leadership, in a series titled Cultivating an Unshakable Character.
Mr. Rohn says this: “Charisma is the ability to elicit favor in other people. It’s a magnetic quality of personality that people respond to, as if it were magic. Almost like a “magic wand” that confers power over others.
Character is derived from the word for chisel. A chisel is a sharp, steel tool used for stripping away waste material from on object—stripping away stuff that might get in the way in order to get down to the essential things…the things that really matter.”
He goes on to explain that the word Character isn’t a “magic wand” it’s what you have to chisel out of the raw material of yourself, just like a sculpture has to create a statue. The raw material is always there, every thing that happens to you, good or bad, is an opportunity for building your character.
The difference between the two expressions is clear; Charisma requires the presence of others while Character is the person you become after you’ve chiseled and gotten past all the unnecessary material to what is within.
During this month of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for all of the chiseling that has gone on in my life. For, in spite of my resistance, I have come to welcome my responsibility of leadership.
Wishing you a beautiful and healthy Thanksgiving Holiday.
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