I believe it begins in the moment.
To notice the moment requires us to be present.
To be present needs a conscious mindset and leadership is then the willingness to accept that we have the power to choose our response to the moment.
This is where leadership begins. It is tiny, almost unnoticed, but it is essential and alive. All leadership starts here.
Please hold this thought when next we are projected upon by a version of leadership that is about being big and loud. Leadership that is amplified to impress and where power is used to diminish others. This is leadership as a contortion, trite and clichéd. It is leadership that excludes the vast majority of us for no good reason and shamefully so when we know in truth that leadership is for everyone and includes.
Scale is critical. Leadership must be human and accessible. Leadership, as demonstrated so beautifully by Jacinda Ardern, is relatable precisely because it is small, present and in the moment.
Leadership must not be the preserve of overly confident, bombastic, alpha-nihilists. Leadership is not populist, it is personal.
Equally leadership should not be for the evangelical futurist. There is no single future, no matter how compelling the narration, there is only the possibility for many futures. Leaders should only speculate on what is to come if they also wear their ignorance for all to see. Leaders who are present in the moment will not demand their version of the future, but instead will accept that what we have now, if it is used well, nurtured and included, is all that we need for what is to come.
Neither should leadership be for the ideological historian. There is not one version of the past, only myriad individual stories that permit us to glimpse a partial view of something huge, but still incomplete. Leaders therefore should not judge the past with polemic zeal, instead leaders who are present in the moment will realise that what we have now is a gift from the past for our needs today.
In truth we can know nothing of the future and only something of the past; but we can have a more complete understanding of each moment when we are present in it. We know where we are, we know how we feel, and we can choose how we want to respond. Leadership begins when we choose to be present.
Leadership, in this way is not the great plan, the great advocacy or the determination to change something or anything. These things may be the output of leadership, but so might be silence, or a pause or deciding to change nothing. Leadership begins by being present; it is to see, to feel and to choose in the moment a conscious course. The more we practice being present, the more we will notice what we have and what we need. Our conscious choices in these moments is where leadership begins.
When we start to look, we will notice leadership every day in unexpected ways, in unexpected people. Leadership is a special and precious quality, and it is a quality in all of us if we chose to be present in the moment.