Do You Have The Leadership Gift?

Before you answer that question, let me assure you of the answer: Yes, you do have the Leadership Gift. You might not know it yet, but you do.

What is leadership?

Leadership means leading, i.e., going first, right? It means taking ownership or responsibility for a space in time and place, thinking ahead, and facing tough challenges with courage and conviction. It also means confronting the truth, even when doing so may be difficult or unpopular.

Most people assume this ability is given to only a handful of people. But my field studies over the last twenty years on the front lines of leadership suggest the ability is given to everyone — including you.

Unfortunately, few discover this gift. Fewer apply it. And very few master it.

The Leadership Gift is available to you right now.

You already have everything you need to discover, access, and apply it. I’m convinced about that, and so are many others who have studied this field.

When people discover, access, and apply the Leadership Gift, extraordinary things happen. Their ability to lead themselves and others increases. That does not mean it gets easy, but leadership become more true. And it also does not mean it become more authoritative, but it does become more authentic.

This article will describe this Leadership Gift, how it works, and what you can do to put it to good use.

The Leadership Gift is your innate ability to take complete ownership of any space, scene, or situation; to confront any truth; and to overcome any challenge no matter how big or daunting.

Yes, you possess an innate ability to do this.

I know this because of my research and experience over the past two decades about how the mind processes thoughts about avoiding or taking responsibility. Taking ownership of a situation — whether it is

  • a task
  • a child
  • a project
  • a relationship
  • a business
  • a war
  • or the future of a nation

is an undeniable essence of leadership. Until one feels a sense of personal ownership for a situation and for moving yourself or others toward intelligent action, you can’t truly take charge of anything.

The Leadership Gift you have available to you right now, and anytime you want to call on it, is your on-board, ever-present Responsibility Process.

Your Responsibility Process

Over the last two decades I’ve learned much about how personal responsibility works in our minds. I’ve also learned that most people are quick to think I’m responsible — it’s all these people around me who need your help, Christopher!

However, consider this. Imagine being able to improve and master your own ability to

  • take charge, change, grow, and overcome limitations of any kind (yes, any)
  • teach and inspire the same (i.e., personal responsibility) in others
  • and determine how to raise the standard of personal responsibility in groups and organizations?

Do I have your attention?

Regulating leadership

Discoveries show that both avoiding responsibility (i.e., not taking charge, changing, growing, or overcoming) and taking responsibility are regulated by a simple yet amazing mental process. This mental process has little to do with your intelligence or education and much more to do with your emotions and nervous system.

We’ve also learned that this mental process normally operates involuntarily, in the background (like breathing happens without thinking about it) but that you can also bring the process to the foreground of your awareness so you can work with it purposefully. That means that personal responsibility no longer needs to remain a mysterious character trait (or flaw) but can now be understood, taught, and inspired directly.

A predictable mental program

I’ll briefly describe the Responsibility Process.

Think of the Responsibility Process as a mental program that gets triggered each time something goes wrong in your life, large or small.

For example: Let’s say you arrive at your office building on a cold morning with many pressing issues on your mind. You grab your ID, which doubles as a key card, and hold it up against the card reader. Doing this usually unlocks the door so you can enter. Only this time the door doesn’t unlatch. Frustrated, you mumble to no one in particular, “I wonder who screwed up the card reader?”

This seems to be a perfectly innocuous comment, the type we say and hear everyday in a myriad of annoying circumstances. Not only that, but it’s also a perfectly reasonable assumption that someone screwed something up keeping us from our morning routine.

We say and hear such things every day. So regularly, in fact, that it can be predicted.

Our studies reveal Lay Blame as your and my first thought when things go wrong. Sure, we’ve been told our whole lives that we should not blame. Why? Because it isn’t resourceful, i.e., it doesn’t solve anything. But that doesn’t stop us from doing it. We are most likely hard-wired to do it. Lay Blame is the first of many stops in our Responsibility Process.

The logic of cause and effect

Psychologists tell us our minds are constantly making meaning out of our experience. The Responsibility Process is part of this process. More importantly, the Responsibility Process appears to feed us answers about the cause and effect relationships when things go wrong.

Lay Blame is just the first step in the process. Other steps include Justify, Shame, Obligation, Quit, and Responsibility.

Each of these positions have proven to be predictable, and you can learn very quickly to spot these positions of mind and to even anticipate (or predict) what might happen next.

You can get stuck at any step

When things go wrong in our lives (big or small), we can

  • Lay Blame on others
  • Justify the problem based on circumstance
  • wallow in Shame that we did this to ourselves
  • feel trapped in Obligation to do something we don’t really want to do
  • Quit the situation hoping to escape it and leave it behind us, or

we can take ownership that it is our Responsibility to learn, correct, or improve in order to rise to the challenge presented by the problem.

Each of these positions is best thought of as a position of mind, a mental state, a mindset we adopt, or — a favorite of many — islands in the mind on which we camp out for awhile or a lifetime around any upset. We can address our problem from any of these positions of mind. And we do so, naturally, without thinking about it.

Only one of these mental states is a state of resourcefulness, of learning, or of leadership. All the other mental states are merely coping mechanisms.

What’s your comment?

Read Part 2: Do You Have The Leadership Gift Part 2: Cope or Grow?

Unlock and Unleash Your Leadership Gift

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Christopher Avery, PhD, is a recognized authority on how individual and shared responsibility works in the mind and an advisor to leaders worldwide. Master leadership or build a responsible team (or family) with The Leadership Gift Program for Leaders.

Posted in Leadership on 05/16/2011 12:57 am
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