Why do we not have more inspirational leaders?

10 May 2021, 08:27 am
Speciality Bites by Paul Hargreaves

I start off the introduction to my new book, The Fourth Bottom Line, by asking why we do not have more inspirational leaders in our lives. I have asked the question at least 100 times in interviews over the year and very few people can give a good answer.

Some are completely flummoxed by the question and others give well known celebrity businesspeople, whom they don’t know. Very few give the answer I would like and that is some who has directly influenced and been a very positive role model in their lives.

Why? Why are we so bereft of such people in our culture who can inspire and influence us? Just think of the impact of the next generation if they had those within the workplace or elsewhere who had a profound influence on their lives. This may well bring about the systemic change we so desperately need.

Here are a few reasons why I think that in the West we are blocked from producing these inspirational leaders:
1) The Western myth that success and happiness come from an ever-increasing salary, larger house, and more possessions. If we knew more of the joy of self-sacrifice and generosity of both time and money, then others would receive more and see a better leader and be inspired. Servant leadership is what inspires others.

2) Connected to the above means that ‘successful’ people tend not to be embedded in their communities in the West and cut themselves off from others behind large cast iron gates, either physical or metaphorical. We have lost the sense of community and hospitality in our culture. When is the last time you as a leader showed true hospitality to those you lead? Others learn from us around the meal table and we deprive them of that opportunity.

3) In the West we pride ourselves on activity. Success equals cramming as much into our days as possible. We are lauded for having appointments from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. as if that were a merit badge. We are doing leaders rather than being leaders. If we focussed more on being, others would not only have more opportunity to learn from us, but our leadership would be more inspiring to others as they would see the woman or man and not just the whirlwind of activity.

4) Due to the above, we emphasize too much the cerebral, strategic, and mental and not enough the leadership that comes from the heart. We demote playfulness, creativity, and intuition below what can be put on a spreadsheet. We must learn to lead from the heart and not just the heart.

If any of the above rings true, do let me know, and you may be interested to know that I have written about all the positive characteristics described above in The Fourth Bottom Line. If you buy the book, for 50 days you will look at one of 50 different characteristics of leadership and be challenged to start putting it into practice that day.

Available to buy from Bookshop.org, Waterstones, and Amazon.

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