Courage. This is the one thing that you're not told when you sign up for a leadership job or go for an interview. Leadership, or going first always takes courage. And it means often you'll be highly uncomfortable. To be the first person to call something out or to offer an idea, you always run the risk that you could get rejected, that people could laugh at you or that people could not take up your idea.
It requires courage, but it's like jumping out of a plane. You don’t wait to be comfortable to be a leader. No one ever said "I'll jump out of a plane when I feel really relaxed about doing it!" . It's the same being a leader. It’s important to feel the fear but to push your way through because you know that when you have the courage to do it, so many other people follow.
It takes courage, it’s uncomfortable and it can be hard. Which really poses this question - if leadership’s hard, if you could get rejected, if it takes all of this courage, why would you do it? There's a number of reasons.
1. The world needs leadership
The world needs it. The world needs what you've got. Never before in business have we dealt with this level of uncertainty, complexity, unpredictability and the rate of change that's going on. That has never happened in the history of business. I think it's no accident that we are all placed here in the most disruptive times, and it also means that we've all got the opportunity to rewrite the history books.
Most studies reveal that we are only bringing ten percent of what we've actually got. Imagine if we just brought ten percent more, twenty percent more? Imagine the flow-on effect for building on the most amazing work that you are already doing.
2. Your career needs leadership
Most importantly, leadership is what you need. It's what you need for yourself, it's what you need for your career. Nearly half of jobs in the future will be impacted by automation and robotics. It makes it interesting for advising your kids these days! What do you tell them will be safe jobs in the future? Doctors will always be important but the combination of Artificial Intelligence and biomedical is probably the most interesting trend in the future. It’s highly likely that we'll be sitting in front of a machine in the future, where we can take our bloods, monitor our statistics, a script will go off to be dispatched and it'll arrive on your door step. What are those jobs that are really going to secure your future and your kids' future?
It comes back again to the human characteristics. There will never be a time where we don't need humans to think differently. There will never be a time where we don't need people to be flexible and adaptive. We’ll need kindness and care, which is much more of an important resource than we can imagine.
Don’t wait until you're in a leadership position to start perfecting, mastering and using those skills. Because if anyone's tried to get a job recently, it's a very, very competitive market out there. Interviewers aren't looking at whether you have been a manager before. What they're wanting to know is about a time where you were thinking differently. “Tell us about a time where you are faced with something and you are able to be flexible and adaptive.” Get those skills and examples under your belt now and you will really secure your career in the future.
3. Self mastery
Did you know in our lifetime we spend about 92000 hours at work? And did you know to become an Olympic expert at something takes 10000 hours? In our lifetime at work, we've got the potential to become Olympic level experts at nine things. Five of those things no doubt will be your technical mastery, but what are going to be the four things that are more about this personal leadership and personal characteristic?
It’s something to think about because that’s a huge investment. It's a large proportion of our lives that we're giving over to work. In fact, it's a third of your life, which is way too big a chunk to just be looking forward to the next holiday! Sometimes we get into that zone of "Oh, work, I love the skills, I love what I do but I’m here for the money, for the next holiday." It's too big a chunk of time to just really give up for those four weeks a year.
So the question is, what do you want to get out of this investment? How can you start giving yourself the permission to master these things, to master these personal characteristics that is so needed for yourself? How can you actually do that? By making a difference, an impact.
Brain scans reveal that we need more than holidays or money to be fulfilled. These scans have been conducted to investigate what engages and rewards people most. They found that in the human brain, the part that lit up with monetary rewards was about the size of your thumbnail. The bit that lit up when people were given the opportunity to make a difference and to have real impact was the whole back of the brain. So how can you become an expert and help the world at the same time?
Leadership takes courage but the effort is worthwhile. Not only do you have the opportunity to make a difference in the world but it will benefit your own sense of wellbeing, satisfaction and performance.