One of the defining characteristics of the human species, apart from almost all other animal forms, is the capability of choice based on conscious thought. Notice I did not say rational or logical thought, because choice about our actions can be based on numerous types of thinking and as we all know, not all our choices in life are wise, rational or logical. But they are still the result of choice.
It is choice, of what to think, what to dwell upon, and how to act (behave) that determines the quality of our lives as human beings. If you somehow believe that you have no choice, that your life is ruled by outside events, that circumstances control your destiny, then I have some very good news for you! That’s not the way it works! You are in control.
Everything we do, think and feel is a product of choice. We experiences an event and our thinking creates a feeling or impression about that event. Proving that this is the way it works is simple: no two people experience the exact same event the same way. For example: two women are walking down a dark street and suddenly a figure lurches out from the shadows right in front of them. One woman screams for help for fear of being mugged, the other asks the stranger if she can help him. One has thoughts about muggings and street crime, the other about the welfare of someone who appears to be hurt. Thoughts create our reality. And we choose our thoughts, even though they may be unconscious or seemingly spontaneous. The real problem is that most of the time we aren’t aware of our thoughts, we let them form from habit or prior conditioning.
Now comes the good part of how we humans are wired. Our thoughts are based on choice. We choose what and how we think about everything. While many of our thoughts are subconscious, they come from us, not from the outside. It’s all choice!
Okay, so where is this lesson in human neuropsychology heading?
Leadership is choice! “Leader” is a title given to us by others, usually within the context of an organisation. For example: “She was promoted to VP and now is the leader of all IT operations in the EMEA Region”. How she behaves in this role defines her “leadership”!
Leadership is the actions and behaviours leaders choose in response to events and requirements. And as we just learned above, actions and behaviours are based on choice.
The quality of leadership is based on the choices made. The most effective leaders pay attention to their thinking and consciously choose their responses and actions. Too often, ineffective leaders just react, their thoughts and choices based on habitual or preconditioned habit patterns. Or worse yet, clouded by thoughts and feeling of anger or fear. Allowing thought habits, past preconditioning, anger or fear to determine our leadership actions and behaviours is not very effective, but at the end of the day it is still a choice!
Mike Myatt, in his new book, Hacking Leadership, opens with a little story about a plaque on his desk that reads: It is what it is! After looking at this phrase for some time, he suddenly realised that this type of thinking is not based on choice, but on passive acceptance of the situation. He then took a marking pen and added an additional set of words. The plaque now reads:
It is what it is, until you decide to change it!
Leadership is a choice! Choose wisely.
See the review of LEVERAGE in The Economist (January 9, 2014.
John also writes thriller novels: novels.johnrchildress.com