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Posted on Oct 22, 2012 in Leadership

Pre-Leadership? (Why who we are before we lead is important)

“Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less.” – John C. Maxwell

I know you’ve heard it many times before, and yes I agree in large part. I’ve mentioned it on this blog from time to time. And while I understand where he’s coming from, there’s one issue I’ve had with this statement.

It is an issue that has been addressed by Dr. Maxwell in many of his books, but for me – it needs to be stressed a little more.

My issue is this: whoever you are before you become a leader is going to greatly affect the kind of leader you are. Therefore, it will greatly affect your influence. It may not affect the amount of influence you have, but it will affect the way your influence is exerted and interpreted.

[tweetherder]Who you are before you become a leader affects how you influence others when you become a leader. [/tweetherder]

Can you change, and become a better person once you become a leader? – yes

Do people generally change after they become a leader? probably not as much as we’d hope or like to believe.

That’s why this is a big issue for me.

If you’re a jerk before you become a leader and don’t work on it pre-leadership, it will affect the way you lead.

If you’re insecure before you become a leader and don’t start working on it, it will affect the way you lead.

If you’ve got moral failings in your life and you don’t have a plan for taking care of them, it will affect the way you lead.

Leadership is like a magnifying glass – the more people you lead, the greater the magnification.

When you get into a leadership role, you have fewer and fewer places to hide. The higher you go up in leadership, the more sparse dark-corners become. The more people you lead, the more people you know. The more people you know, the more people there are who interact with you. The more people you interact with, the greater the possibility they will experience your flaws.

Why is it so hard to change once you become a leader?

As soon as you step out into a leadership role, you have less time to spend working on who you are as a person. You have to spend more time working on who other people are. You spend your days working with/and on people – helping them become the best they can be in whatever way. Then when you get home, you think about the other problems you have to solve, do the work you didn’t have time to do during the day….go to bed…wake up…people….more people…etc…

That’s why I believe in the concept of pre-leadership. If you aspire to lead some day, who you are today is way more important than you realize. Work hard on become a fully rounded – mentally, emotionally and spiritually – healthy person. You won’t regret it.

What do you think are the most important aspects of personhood to be working on before becoming a leader?