Extreme LeadershipIn his must-read book Real Leadership, Harvard professor Dean Williams remarks, “The exercise of leadership is not a trivial matter…. Passion is an important element in the realm of real leadership. If you are not passionate about making things better in your local school, enterprise, or community, then you should probably not seek to be the primary actor in the process of leadership and consider moving to the side.”
Leadership is a big and challenging responsibility. It is a commitment to be responsible for the well-being of those you are leading. Much of what passes to day as leadership is role playing. Too often this is because those who get the titles are good at playing the role. But they're not leading.
Steve Farber speaks to this well on his web site:
Here's the problem: many people who call themselves leaders are only posing. They're wearing the label or accepting the title without putting their skin in the game. So I'm asking you—assuming that you really do aspire to lead—to approach the act of leadership as you'd approach an extreme sport: learn to love the fear and exhilaration that naturally comes with the territory. And that takes a personal commitment and a significant, personal choice. As my friend and colleague, Terry Pearce, said in an article in the San Francisco Examiner:
"There are many people who think they want to be matadors, only to find themselves in the ring with two thousand pounds of bull bearing down on them, and then discover that what they really wanted was to wear tight pants and hear the crowd roar."If, however, you do make the choice to leap into the ring, it's because of your love of the challenge, the adventure, and that love is what makes the fear of the "sport" worthwhile. Not only do you accept the fear as part of the experience, the fear—in large part—creates and defines the experience. Extreme would not be extreme without fear. And fear would not be worth it without the love of the game.
The same is true of Extreme Leadership: it is the dynamic interplay of fear and love-two of the most powerful forces in the human experience. And in my estimation, those who actively and intentionally use the experience of fear and love everyday in their attempts to change things for the better—in whatever arena—are Extreme Leaders.
Farber is the author of The Radical Leap and more recently The Radical Edge. His web site has a wealth of information on leadership that’s worth taking a look at.
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