We bring light as leaders through deliberate and constant focus on doing so. I invite you to share examples below.

Here we sit in the middle of the holiday season.

I’m here–with the freedom of conscience, thought, and expression afforded some of us in this world–reflecting on the past year and its many lessons. As I do so, I am pondering what this season of giving means to all of us who count ourselves as leaders, particularly the subset of us who strive to be enlightened leaders.

To wit: I’ve been struck over the past year with the conviction that the word “enlightened” really is the key. Anyone can occupy a position of power. Some are there due to merit, some due to happenstance, and some simply through the laziness of those who place them there. Some–those who count position and power as the ultimate ends–cast a cloud of darkness on those they lead.

The gist is this: We can “be” in a leadership position without “being” a leader. The choices we make determine whether we fulfill the role.

Bringing enlightenment–whether it be in strategic, personal, financial, fiduciary, or operational matters–is the ineluctable, essential imperative in this age of reaction, speed, spin, and selfishness. Too many lives and livelihoods ride on the backs of leaders these days–in the old days it was the bureaucracy and the rules–for leaders not to put their focus on the highest and best aspirations.

But, if you are reading this, you know that platforms like LinkedIn posts, personal blogs, and other media are sometimes used to point out what ought not be done.

I’m not going there with this one. I’m going to abide by the old saying that goes:

It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

And, so I thought I’d reflect for a minute, in the midst of Chanukkah and on the verge of Christmas, on what it means to “light a candle” as a leader. And, then, to ask you to share as well.

Both Chanukkah and Christmas celebrate the lighting of miraculous lights in their own way. Perhaps as leaders you, dear reader, and I might aspire to something short of that, but to something enduring nonetheless. So…

5 ways to light a candle as a leader

(Hundreds of others exist…Please share yours below)

1. Perform – Deliver the numbers, the project, the deal, the plan. Yes, setting a standard of performance is the first and foremost kindling of the light of leadership. Results, as they say, matter. Capability matters. Establishing a bar of performance…a standard or an expectation that others can see and understand; actually will set you apart as a leader in this day of spin and historical revision. Nobody really wants to follow a phony or a fraud.

2. Believe – Have confidence in those around you, and show it. At the root of inspirational leadership is faith the leader shows in those he or she leads. Stretch them. Challenge them. Coach them. But most of all, prove that you believe in them. Listening to them is a good start.

3. Build – Be the one who leaves something of value when you go. Focus not merely on the number of stones you lay this day, week, month, or year; but also on the ultimate edifice you are constructing. If you can’t envision the edifice, then neither can those you lead…So, stop. Even the most forthright stonemason wants to know what he’s building. Think about what you are building. This goes for the business or organization you are driving today: Earnings growth? Yes, but also longer term value! It also goes for the people you lead: Sure, they are in it for the money, but where are their careers going under your leadership? Unless your social contract is explicitly transactional (which is perfectly fine as long as it’s explicit and mutual)…Build!

4. Share – Give a piece of yourself to those you lead. The act of sharing doesn’t have to be intense or strenuous, but it ought to be sincere. Share how you’ve succeeded. Reflect on a failure or challenge. Note how you’ve been inspired by others. Share something of value to those around you that is about you but not shared for your benefit (that includes wallowing in the negative…rarely a good thing). 96% of people seek personal meaning in the relationships they have. Consider that.

5. Thank – Admit you can’t do it alone. Take the time to say thank you…yes, even for effort and not outcome. It’s true that people work for a paycheck; but none of us wants a team full of paycheck players…They rarely win.

I can think of so many others that have meant so much to me; but I’ll leave it at that. Now, it’s your turn…

I don’t always leave a call to action at the bottom of my posts. In this case, I’d very much like to hear from readers on how leaders have lit the way in readers’ professional or personal lives. If you feel so compelled, please share something ever so briefly in the comments section below.

Do it in the spirit of the season; and perhaps to enhance the endurance of enlightened leadership everywhere.

Please share…

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukkah, Season’s Greetings, and God bless!

Geoff Wilson is a strategy executive focused on the articulation of practical strategic principles for leadership and performance. If you follow people on Twitter, you might consider following him: @GeoffTWilson

View this and other posts at the Wilson Growth Partners, LLC Blog.

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