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Here I am again- sitting at the computer and trying to understand how a leader emerges…  how they work… where they find their energy… their patience… their knowledge…  I am looking for a map.  I need to get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’…  I realize…  I realize… I realize….

I realize it is NEVER that easy or everyone would be a leader.

I think back on the great leaders of our time.  I consider the leaders I have known in my life.  I conclude that with few exceptions, there were fundamental, specific portions of their lives that attention and focus were always paid.  I can summarize these areas in a few bullets:

  • Spiritual Health
  • Physical Health
  • Learning and Growing
  • Having a Plan and Setting Goals
  • Friends, Family and Your Spouse
  • Personal Financial Security

I have been trying to focus on all these areas in my life at once for the last year or so.  Not that I was not already living these pillars in some fashion before, but I have recently focused all my energies on these 6 pillars above all else.  I will tell you that I have seen great improvement in all areas of my life.

Leadership Map

WHAT! I'm the treasure? What a ripoff!

There are countless studies on the positive developments that people encounter when they employ a focus on just one of these areas in their lives.  The key for living leadership is to create a solid foundation for each of these areas and then create habits, making it easy to adopt your habits into a lifestyle.

Let’s take a look at how each of these areas can help you focus as a leader.

Spiritual Health – Evan Carmichael discusses spiritual health for leaders in his blog– “Belief in a higher power (whatever your devotion) propels an individual towards the ideal self. Spiritual beliefs provide a doctrine that forces us to examine our own actions and motivations against a core of morality”. Nuff Said.

Physical Health – It is no secret that you feel better when you are in shape.  Harvey Mackey from the Star Tribune in Minneapolis discusses some of the positive aspects of health on leadership in a recent article.  He quotes Maj. John Patrick Gallagher, “Self-discipline and being able to perform under pressure and exist outside our comfort zone would be the key that unlocked our success (as leaders).”

Learning and Growing – There is no need to quote anyone here.  We all know that the more you study, work and understand the great minds of business, management and leadership, the more effective you will become as a leader. I strongly recommend books on CD from the local library, setting a reading list in Amazon or borrowing books from other leaders you may know.

Having a Plan and Setting Goals – This cannot be stressed enough.  When you envision your goals you are more likely to achieve them.  A Mental Rehearsal study discussed by Wright State University examines basketball athletes who mentally imagine their shots as well as physically practice the shots.  “Research has found that a combination of “imagined practice” and actual practice often results in better performances than those achieved with preparation that relies solely on actual practice.  In addition to athletics, studies have shown that imagined practice improves performance in diverse contexts that include communication, education and clinical and counseling psychology.”

Friends, Family and Your Spouse – People need people.  We are social animals.  It is critical for leaders to have a safe place to go and talk and unwind.  Most leaders have a strong system of family and friends.  It is true that some drive out their closest relationships as they dive deeper into their leadership role, but those are more often the exception than the rule.  Great examples of American leaders with strong families are FDR, John Kennedy and George Bush.

Personal Financial Security – Leaders cannot focus on their companies, constituents or teams if they are not able to take risks with their career.  It is critical that leaders keep their personal finances in order so that they can focus on the job at hand. Leaders should not worry about risk or money.  Being solvent creates a more stable marriage and allows for a strong family life.

Taking all of these pillars and implementing them into you life will take time.  But the more you act like a leader and make a little time in each day for all of these leadership fundamentals, the easier it will be to exude leadership and live the journey rather than search for the end of the map.