What the heck is a leadership manifesto?

martin-carterIn our new and inspirational post series, here is a great post from Martin Carter a regular contributor of posts to the FED site. In this post Martin writes about what leadership means to him, his own ‘Leadership Manifesto’; we’d love to hear from you with what leadership means to you, your own Leadership Manifesto. Please get in touch and have your Leadership Manifesto posted on the site.

What the heck is a leadership manifesto?

Recently a dear friend, coach and, to be honest a bit of a nag, (who I admire greatly) challenged me to write my leadership manifesto. Having first googled ‘Leadership Manifesto’ to find out what the heck one was, I decided I needed to reflect and cogitate on it…although from the outside it may have looked like I had decided that it was way too hard and so was simply prevaricating.

However I was due to meet this friend again so knowing he would ask/nag, I took a deep breath, and was surprised by what I wrote. I had expected a series of action-orientated bullet points. Instead I noticed that I had written about relationship and vision; shared purpose and liberation and how these lead to extraordinary results… Or to put it another way to Future-Engage-Deliver.

An organisation is nothing. Save for its people. Its life, its energy, its culture, its impact come though, via, because and in spite of its people. People matter. People matter most.

Extraordinary things happen when people are liberated to be themselves. This means turning up to work, rest and play with all parts of themselves in tow; their values, their beliefs, their energies, their passions, their creativity, their talents.

A leader brings these things into balance, by creating a team that is driven by a shared purpose, higher than that which the organisation wishes for them. This purpose talks to each of their unique ‘whys’ and invites each of them to shackle their individual ‘why’ to a collective ‘why’ in a way that is coherent and congruent, honouring and respecting their individuality whilst creating a greater whole that inspires and motivates.

But if the activation energy is vision, then the catalyst is relationship. High performance is founded on deep relationships, where each is heavily invested in the success of the other.

When shared purpose and deep relationships meet, extraordinary things happen. Creating this extraordinary blend and balance is the role of the leader. This is the balance sheet that a wise leader is preoccupied with.

There is no such thing as a heartless leader. Such a person may direct, subjugate or control through position, power or influence, but they do not lead

There is no such thing as a selfish leader. Such a person may deliver results, obtain power or gain riches but they cannot lead

There is no such thing as a fearful leader. Such a person may offer security, be safe to be around, and ensure an uneventful journey, but they dare not lead.

There is no such thing as a meek leader. Such a person may earn respect, love people and be well liked, but they will not lead.

A true leader is fierce; a true leader is courageous; a true leader is authentic. A true leader loves the person we were meant to be. A true leader leads from the heart, a place of beliefs, values and passions. A place of love. A true leader seeks first to serve, not lead, but in so-doing gains followers.

True leadership, then, is measured not by how much you win by, but by how many who follow achieve their personal best… and then better it. A true leader grows beneath them the giants on whose shoulders they stand. Rilke put it best :

“Winning does not tempt that man. This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively, by constantly greater beings”(Rilke)

What is leadership? Simply the act of liberating those who follow to be the people they were made to be.

By Martin Carter

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