The word leader used to evoke an image for me of a strong muscle bound warrior ahead of the pack. Images of Mel Gibson in Braveheart or Brad Pitt in Troy fighting the battle have been burnt in my mind. As a male, this idea that being a leader means you need to be strong and mighty is a different view that I now have.
Ask any leader what’s scarier, to lead a team into uncertainty or to admit to your team that you’re scared or that you need help. I will tell you that admitting they are scared or asking for help is much harder for them. Vulnerability is a more courageous act. Showing your weakness or admitting you need help doesn’t make you weak, it makes you strong.
Bit by bit my everyday experience as a leader started to clash with this muscle bound image of the warrior in armour. I owe much of this to the women I’ve had the honour to lead in my life. The thing with armour is that it weighs you down.
Here is a quote from Lao Tzu that says it all: “All streams flow to the sea because it is lower than they are. Humility gives it its power. If you want to govern the people, you must place yourself below them. If you want to lead the people, you must learn how to follow them.”