In many leadership development programs and one-on-one coaching sessions, participants are asked to think about an inspiring leader who they admire or want to emulate. Often the question is phrased as “When you think of a successful leader, who do you think of…?”
Having been in many sessions where this question has been asked, I have recognised patterns in the answers. They include:
- My parents/family member/significant teacher
- My first boss/first person to give me a break/first mentor/first person to pity me/first person to sponsor me
- Richard Branson/Steve Jobs/the Google guys/Elon Musk
- Mandela/Gandhi/Mother Theresa and in recent times, Pope Francis
- Individual sports stars who have ran very fast, jumped very high or passed the ball better than anyone else
- Politicians… actually never come up for some reason
- Bono… once… ok that was me who suggested him…
A few weeks ago I heard an answer that absolutely floored me. One that I had never heard before.
The answer forced me to rethink the question and answer completely.