By Guest Contributor Paul Dupuis
Let’s start with the good news – anyone can be leader! In fact, as humans, we’re born with a natural instinct to both lead and follow. It’s in our DNA.
On the other hand, leadership is a skill which needs to be developed. And like any skill, to become proficient, better yet, to master the skill, it requires consistent effort, training and practise. And it requires commitment.
- Leadership is a muscle
- Anyone can become a leader
- Leadership requires practise, practise and more practise
Leadership on the playground
- Leadership brings lots of emotions
- Listen to the voice that says “go for it” and “I can do this”
- Building the leadership muscle includes falling down, getting up, learning lessons and trying again
- Leadership is about stepping up
For some of us, we learned about both leadership and follower-ship on the playgrounds. When we picked teams, informal leaders stepped forward or were nominated by the rest of the kids. In my case, the teams were usually chosen by the biggest, strongest kids on the block. So, you could say my first lesson around leadership was that the biggest and strongest become leaders. I soon came to learn that this far from the truth, at least when we move beyond the playground and into the bigger world.
Most of us have been there, that moment where we were chosen, or perhaps even volunteered, to lead a project, a new initiative or a team. The first time leader experiences a mix of emotions; excitement, apprehension, optimism and fear. And born from these emotions comes an adrenalin rush. A little voice on one shoulder says; “I can do this!”, while the voice on the other shoulder whispers, “What if they won’t follow me?”.
Tackling a new leadership challenge is a form of practise, this is where the skill is honed, mistakes are made, learnings emerge, and the practise continues. Over time, when we take on different kinds of leadership roles, we start to gain confidence. The positive voice becomes louder over time, and a self-confidence begins to emerge. And the experiences, learnings and maturity which follow leads to presence. Leadership presence then, is built through trying, trying and trying again. Simply put, leadership if built by ‘stepping up’.
What’s the secret to success?
- There are no secrets to success, just be you
- Your leadership journey is owned by you
- Don’t imitate other leaders, just be you
I’m often asked by young people and leaders in the early stages of their careers, “Can you give me advice on how to become a CEO one day?”. It’s a big question, and frankly, there’s no simple answer. My journey ‘happened’ over years of trying, falling down, standing back up, learning, reflecting, trying again, tasting success, and falling down again. And my story was created by me, with lots of support from the leaders who walked before me. In other words, my leadership journey is entirely mine. Just as I wouldn’t attempt to imitate the path or the leadership styles of Satya Nadella or Jeff Bezos, I wouldn’t expect young leaders to walk in my path.
Back to some more good news. The ‘secrets’ of becoming an effective leader – a leader who makes an impact, a game-changer, are actually not secrets at all quite simple. That is, the what is simple, but the challenge comes with the how. In the chapter, ‘Leadership & You’, I explore some of the traits of the exceptional leaders around us, and uncover some universal truths about leadership. One of those truths is centred around behaviour.
Why the Why?
- There is no try, only do
- Exceptional leaders focus on the why
- Leadership skills are built by doing
Great leaders begin by defining what leadership means to them. Interestingly, when we listen to these leaders talk about leadership, they usually refer to the why, the greater purpose. They talk less about the what and how and get more excited and passionate when they talk about the mission, and how the world will change when that mission is activated.
If you ask these leaders how they got to this Jedi master level of leadership, they will tell you that it’s been a long, winding and unpredictable road. But it began by stepping up, by doing. And in doing, leaders discover their strengths, I call these your natural brilliance – we all have something that we are naturally good at. Leaders take full advantage of these muscles on their quest to make an impact.
It’s a journey not a destination
- Leadership is a journey
- Leadership is not a style, it’s a way of life
- Becoming an effective leader requires hard work
And this is where you come in. It’s up to you to craft your own personal version of leadership. The fact that you’re reading this is a good sign, it means that you’re thinking about leadership. Leadership requires thought, reading, thinking and reflection. It’s in these moments when we discover the stuff that makes us tick.
In observing other leaders, reading about their journey, and looking in the mirror ourselves, we begin to craft our own “ism” of leadership. You may call it a leadership style, or perhaps brand of leadership, but I think it’s much deeper than that. Through practising the art and science of leadership you start to undergo a transformation, you start to become a leader.
Before you proceed on this journey, be forewarned. As Spiderman wisely said, “with great power comes great responsibility”. Leadership is a journey which never really ends, it’s fluid, it’s alive and it takes on a new shape which evolves each time you lead. And over time, as you become a seasoned leader, leadership becomes you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paul Dupuis is CEO and Managing Director of Randstad India and the former Chairman of HOPE International (JP). Paul is bilingual, speaking both English and Japanese, and has lived and worked across Asia for more than 25 years.
Learn more about The E5 Movement
From a young backpacker, sleeping on a park bench in Japan, to leading one of the biggest corporate giants in the Asia-Pacific region, Paul Dupuis has built a career through game changing leadership – crafted through his own real-life experiences as an athlete, volunteer and CEO. The E5 is a unique leadership model; a call to action to all leaders, globally, to inspire and lead for change. The five Es are: envision; express; excite; enable; execute.
These five rules of game-changing leadership will revolutionize the way leaders approach each new challenge. The real-life anecdotes combined with the conversational tone of the book make this an accessible and impactful read. Thought provoking and practical, this book will inspire leaders to think about their leadership, adopting the five Es on their mission to lead their teams to excellence – a true game-changer. Pick your five and join the movement!
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