Four Things that Emerging Leaders Must Define

There is a new generation of leaders emerging. They are young, energized and enthusiastic, yet often struggle to find their professional path in today’s economic climate. We need them— developing new leaders is critical for every cause and every corporation. A strong culture and practice of leadership allows organizations to adapt to new challenges, innovate and grow.

Rather than something that is bestowed upon employees or treated as a “reward” for good work, leadership must be cultivated throughout every level of the organization as a discipline and as a practice. Leadership is possible from any seat— whether you are a sales clerk or a CEO. We define the practice of leadership as: developing a deep understanding of yourself, your relationships, and the system in which you operate in order to positively influence what’s around you. A leader’s influence must not only serve his or herself but must serve those they work with and the system in which they work. The Personal Leadership Canvas is a tool to facilitate this practice.

It’s important for emerging leaders to develop their sense of self, their worldview, their moral compass, and imagine what’s possible-- and for this, there are four things that emerging leaders must define.

1. Values

Your values serve as a foundation. On your path, they allow you to walk on solid ground.  It feels good when we live through them, it feels terrible when we act outside of them, and we often feel tension with others when they act against them in our presence. You can also think of your values as an operating procedure. If you’re going into a difficult situation, what would it look like to handle the situation by behaving according to your values?

Guiding Questions:
What feelings and behaviors are most important to you?
What behaviors of others make you angry?
What do you want to bring with you wherever you go?


2. Voice

Voice begins with your unique story and your perspective on the world. First, we intake information through our senses. We see, we feel, we perceive things and all of our past and present experiences inform our unique perspectives. Once you understand your perspective, you have the opportunity and responsibility to find the most authentic, appropriate, engaging, and effective way to share it with others. It’s critical to teams and organizations that a diversity of perspectives are heard and inform the way they operate and the work they produce.

What do you see, feel, sense, perceive?
What is the most engaging and effective way to voice your perspective?
What voice do you want to bring to your team?
What do you want to say to the world?


3. Vision

Vision is both what you literally see and what you can imagine as possibility. Think of your vision as the horizon line. It gives us our sense of place and allows us to imagine what can be. It’s important to that you allow your vision to be outside of your current reality— don’t limit yourself by what you think to be possible based on immediate restraints. A tool for defining your vision (and an upcoming journal post) is the use of boundaries. If you feel stuck or are unsure where to start, put some boundaries of time and context around your imagination— we like to use the boundary of one year with our clients.  Defining your vision is an ongoing practice. The key is to imagine and then act, imagine, act…

One year from now, what do you want to have created?
What do you want to be doing?
What do you want to feel?
How do you want others to perceive you?

4. Purpose

Your purpose is what gets you out of bed in the morning and what keeps you moving. We placed it at the center of the Canvas because we think of it as a beating heart. Purpose is closely tied to vision and it's the relationship between the two that's important. While vision represents what, purpose represents why. Vision is what you’re working towards, purpose is why that is important to you. Purpose gives you your minimum viable product— meaning that while your vision will take time to build, a clear purpose will allow you to take action immediately.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?
What really fires you up?  
What inspires you to do something about it?


Caleb DeanComment