A couple of weeks ago I met with one of my mentors. He was describing his approach to the current phase of his life, which he is calling “Liberation”; liberation to do the things he wants and liberation to be the person he wants to be.
I mentioned that in my current phase of life I regard private service as a key for me. His ears pricked up and he asked me to say more. I said something like this: “Well, I think that we may be entering into a new phase of society. Just as we are transitioning from the industrial age to the digital age, I am finding more and more leaders transitioning from beliefs about the importance of public service to what I am calling Private Service. By that I mean that people are abandoning political leadership and the notions of governments controlling every aspect of life. Instead, thoughtful people are just getting on with what they can do in a private way.”
My thinking about Private Service is rooted in my intuitive understanding of leadership and what happens in the moment when leaders actually lead.
When leaders emerge who combine:
their understanding of their surrounding situation with
some personal thoughts, learning, understanding, models and the like and they translate them into
an intention to move ahead and
genuine care for others,
something transformational happens.
A group in this situation doesn’t just transition from inaction to action; its character transforms. The leaderless group members choose to give up being victims and bystanders, rationalising their immobility with thoughts like “It’s not my fault.”
In the moment when leadership emerges, a transformation occurs and both leader and followers now begin to follow a clear pathway to action.
There seem to be four steps on the pathway.
The first is to combine everything they have experienced up to that moment into a new context for action.
The second is that they take on a new role and accountability. In clarifying their purpose (Like Simon Sinek’s “WHY”) and accepting personal responsibility, they begin to find new meaning.
The third is that they begin to act, usually with a new awareness of what they are doing
Finally they notice the results.
As I think about, refine and practise this approach to leadership in my everyday interactions with others I am seeing transformations take place in who both others and myself are being.
Leadership practised in this way provides access to transformation of lives and activities. It may also provide new frameworks for those involved in industrial age Public Service and help them rekindle their leadership and help societies they serve transform into the Digital Age.
Since that meeting with my mentor we’ve done a bit more thinking together about this and started to involve others. What do you think? What understanding of leadership works for you? What do you think about a Private Service approach to being a leader?
If you have read this far you might like to attend an event run by The Leadership Foundation (www.theleadershipfoundation.com.au). The Leadership Foundation provides opportunities for leaders to reflect on their own understanding of leadership and to practise their further development in a supportive environment with other leaders.