“THE BEST RULERS ARE BARELY KNOWN TO MEN”*
“The great ruler speaks little
and his words are priceless
He works without self-interest
And leaves no trace …”
~ *Tao Te Ching
What is true leadership? How does one develop oneself into being a leader, a good leader, a great leader? What are the characteristics of the people we have admired over the years, those who have inspired and mentored and empowered us to be our best?
There are many books written on leadership, and many worth reading. I have found for myself, however, that when life has thrown its curves at me, the real ballast that I could count on came from within myself. I have to listen deeply in the darkest hours of experience, for some quiet resonance of insight. There are times when friends and family can assist, but then there are times when one has to walk alone. How do we do this, make choices when there is no outer guidance?
This question has been the source of my last years of work on listening for what we don’t know, and listening for the wisdom that lies dormant yet intrinsic within that inquiry. I work with clients on developing this listening as a practice, as I ongoingly work with myself on sustaining the discipline of this practice. Whatever expertise we have, whatever leadership role we have attained, we are always at square one. The elevation may be higher, but the next unknown and need for awakening presents itself – and there we stand again, at square one, listening to the Silence.
After a workshop I delivered in New York in January of this year, one of my clients sent me a quote that moved and inspired me. These are the words of a courageous and passionate woman—a true leader. She has dedicated her life to the protection of the African white lion, a majestic and sacred species that is gravely endangered. Her words move and inspire, and her actions, in the face of many odds, are making a positive contribution to us all.
“A true leader takes the first step into the unknown, without guarantees, without official mandate, without road maps to follow—only her heart and inner knowing of fairness and justice. There are no guarantees. Knowing full well the weight of responsibility in charting the first steps into the unknown, a leader takes these steps regardless. She doesn't wait for human consciousness to be approving or condoning; she takes consciousness with her as she courageously breaks new ground on behalf of humanity. That's the nature of leadership.” ~ Linda Tucker, Saving the White Lions