It is a fundamental challenge of our time to repurpose what we now need from leaders and from leadership.
We traditionally describe leadership in terms of power. In politics we talk of the political parties being “in power”. Power is also “wielded” and more often than not aggressive, crude and violent images are appropriated by leaders as evidence of their power. These are images of power as strength but also, all too easily, of oppression.
There is a sense in which those who have power own the opportunity to act as they want because they have either taken or been given the power to act over others. It is a very small step to then act disgracefully to anyone less powerful. The primacy of the needs of the powerful excuses any impact on the needs of the powerless whether it is one country over another, or a senior politician lunging at an intern. To repurpose leadership we must elevate the privilege of trust and diminish the predominantly male oriented construct of power.
The privilege of trust is the opportunity to empower others.
The privilege of trust is to recognise that leadership is inherently temporary and carries a specific responsibility to do no harm.
The privilege of trust is to recognise the vulnerability of others and see it as an opportunity to encourage not to exploit.
The privilege of trust is to elevate the needs of the many above the ambition of the few.
Power is becoming such a damaged concept, corrupted and sullied by generations of some men who too easily have taken for themselves trophies of personal aggrandisement as a perk of their success.
Trust is a more precious tribute cherished by those who feel the true weight of their responsibility to use their influence as a bridge to help, encourage and inspire others.
If we want to repurpose leadership, then power must become less and less the measure of a leader. Instead the privilege of trust should guide our encouragement and appreciation of what it means to lead and to be valued as a leader.
And when we repurpose leadership in this way we also encourage everyone, regardless of gender, background and culture to see their great opportunity to lead and to be considered a leader.
Take care. Paul