Leadership is not being at the table, it is choosing your table
Posted on 8th February 2022 at 06:47
When I changed career, something I reflected on was how leadership would show up in my life. I mused over this point a lot and brought it to my personal coaching sessions. What does it really mean to lead and how do I want to be a leader in the world? The word that kept coming up for me was ‘impact’. I wanted to be of greater impact. And, in particular, I wanted to ensure I would be intentional about that impact.
While we talk a lot about getting people ‘to the table’, the question we don’t encourage enough is ‘do I want to be at THAT table?’ A question I prefer to ask myself now is ‘am I choosing THIS table?’ We forget the power we individually hold; that we legitimise any table we sit at. Without greater intentionality, achieving a position at certain tables is not leading but, in fact, following.
Discernment is your friend in leadership. The problem with certain established tables is they are populated by people committed to the status quo. Who are happy with how things are and, thus, resistant to change. Exhaustion is the best defence of ‘old’ systems and ways of being. You may be at a table, but if it feels exhausting, like no real progress or change is being made, is it worth your energy? Choosing your table is as much about preserving yourself as it is about furthering collective change. To recognise the potency of yourself as a resource. That you must not allow that potency to be diminished. That you retain the power to choose who gets access to your resources.
I believe personal leadership will be the leadership of the future. It’s how each of us can make a difference. Personal leadership requires you to be intentional of how you allow yourself to be used and by whom. ‘Tables’ are part of your personal supply chain. Sometimes it is more powerful and serves the collective more not to strive so hard to be included but rather to starve tables resistant to change of the talent and innovation you and, others like you, could bring. To recognise your energy could be better expended building the new rather than fighting the old.
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