I was thumbing through Robert Dilts’ Alpha Leadership: Tools for Business Leaders Who Want More from Life when I came across this concise explanation of why leading yourself first is important before leading others.
The central idea in the story of Monty Roberts, the ‘Horse Whisperer’, is that although horses will run away from strange humans at the slightest provocation, they will follow and ‘join up’ with interesting humans who appear to pose no threat to them.
We shy away from forceful demands for loyalty and commitment, but we flock to and swarm round focal points where ‘cool stuff’ seems either to be happening or about to happen.
Good leaders work with our hunger to involve ourselves, with others, in interesting work and exciting projects. They influence and seduce, rather than command, and try to become ‘attractors’, as complexity scientists put it – the embodiments of attractive energy, the centre of the swarm.
But leaders can only be attractive, in this sense, when they themselves are truly aligned. Alignment starts from the inside, out: being sure of who you are and what your ‘calling’ is, understanding and projecting your values and abilities, and ensuring that these inner qualities and resources are fully aligned.
In short, there is no substitute for being an authentic and coherent person.