Only those who can lead themselves can lead others

Manage­ment deals with the inan­i­mate. It deals with num­bers, process­es and struc­tures — lead­er­ship with the liv­ing, with peo­ple in their diver­si­ty and unique­ness. It is often neglect­ed that lead­er­ship always refers first and fore­most to the leader him­self. And this self-man­age­ment begins with the jour­ney to one­self and the clar­i­fi­ca­tion of such essen­tial ques­tions as “What is my talent?”,“What gives me joy?” or “What does the world need from me?”.

Only those who can lead them­selves can lead others.
Father Anselm Grün

Besides “lead­er­ship is ser­vice, not a priv­i­lege”, this is the sec­ond state­ment of Father Anselm Grün, that Bodo Janssen describes in his book “Die stille Rev­o­lu­tion: Führen mit Sinn und Men­schlichkeit” (which trans­lates to “The Silent Rev­o­lu­tion: Lead­ing with Sense and Human­i­ty”, but unfor­tu­nate­ly, there is no Eng­lish trans­la­tion of this book avail­able at present) as hav­ing a last­ing impact on him. “What is real­ly essen­tial to me? Why am I here? What do oth­ers ben­e­fit from me being there? What is my tal­ent? What are my strengths? What gives me plea­sure? What kind of action ful­fills me?” These are the ques­tions that Bodo Janssen dealt with after this real­iza­tion and which should con­cern us all. Only those who gain clar­i­ty in these ques­tions can real­ly awak­en life as lead­ers; in them­selves and with the peo­ple entrust­ed to them. With­out this clar­i­ty at the foun­da­tion, lead­er­ship can eas­i­ly become oppor­tunis­tic manip­u­la­tion, and pride, anger, envy and the oth­er dead­ly sins of new lead­er­ship are at risk.

Through pas­sions man lives, through rea­son he mere­ly exists.
Nico­las Chamfort

In Japan­ese cul­ture there is a spe­cial term for this very per­son­al jour­ney to one­self: Iki­gai (生き甲斐). Trans­lat­ed freely, Iki­gai means “a rea­son for being”. As the fol­low­ing graph­ic shows, Iki­gai is described as the suc­cess­ful com­bi­na­tion of pas­sion (“What you love”), tal­ent (“What you are good at”), mean­ing (“What the world needs”) and pro­fes­sion (“What you can be paid for”).


The sat­is­fac­tion result­ing from such a suc­ceed­ing and suc­cess­ful life is not only a good basis for lead­er­ship, stud­ies also show that peo­ple who have found their Iki­gai are health­i­er and live longer, as Dan Buet­tner explains in his TED Talk below. Rea­son enough to start look­ing for your Iki­gai at the begin­ning of this new year guid­ed by the ques­tion in the above graphic.

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