Leadership – The First Profession

The essence of good leadership is the ability to do two major things:

  1. move the attitudes of people in a positive direction (including our own attitude)
  2. move situations around us in a positive direction.

When such a leadership attitude embraces a confidence that the impossible becomes possible, then we call that a seamless leadership attitude.

Obviously there are many other functions needed to be a good leader, but this is the essence. In many cases this is not an easy task – for example, leading a school here in South Africa, and perhaps any other part of the world. We live in a challenging environment.

A major obstacle in the path of most leaders is this: the lack of a general awareness of the imperative of leadership being their First Profession. We use multiple descriptions of our many roles in our society, including that of our professions and/or management titles. Yet many of us, probably the vast majority, do not realise that the leadership part of our professions is in fact by far the most important part.

It is the leadership part of us that enables us to move attitudes and situations around us. It is leadership attributes of motivation, direction and supporting structure that empowers us to get things done. It is the leadership processes we use that enable us to move people’s attitudes and change situations, from the negative to the positive.

The leadership part of us is the better part of us. This is why we state that leadership is our First Profession no matter what your daily job is.

An essential element of the mission of Leadership Platform is to embrace those individuals, principles and sources that enable us to drill down to the essences of leadership effectiveness. That is why we invite top leaders to join us on our Leadership Platform CliffCentral show and share their valuable skills and lessons learnt over the years. The more we do this, the more we realise that good leadership is not simply another subject to pursue (when you are ready to do so), but is in fact the essence of every profession and function in our society.

Without good leadership practices, in other words, without the ability to move people and situations, our professions are in a real sense meaningless. If I cannot use my skills as a teacher, Principal, CEO, accountant, sportsman, sales person, parent to move people and situations then I am of little worth to myself and to my fellow human beings.

In the past the term ‘soft skills’ were often used to describe those attributes, values and skills that were meant to define our ability as leaders and workers. Our modern society is fast coming to the realisation that these so-called soft skills are in fact the essences of good performance at all levels. The days are passed that performance is measured simply by what we can milk from others.

The big question facing us as individuals, organisations and society as a whole is this: What can we do to build our leadership awareness and skills?

What is happening much of the time in our society is that we jump to the functional needs of our professions without first building our foundational ability of leadership, which actually enables us to master the functional needs around us. It is like focusing all our efforts on getting to our destination without serious attention to the vehicle and organisation necessary for the trip.

Challenge: As a community at large we are proficient in determining our problems and needs, but less efficient in focusing on the leadership essences that enable us to overcome our long list of problems. All of us can identify the challenges in our education system for example, but how good are we at overcoming these challenges? That requires great leadership!

In general we recognise the tremendous need for good education at all levels. Surely the greatest foundational educational need in our society, is the building of our First Profession awareness and ability from earliest childhood! Our leadership awareness is what builds confidence, vision and courage to overcome difficult situations.

The First Profession leadership is the antidote to our challenges. Leadership will address our long list of functional challenges.

We have many systems, laws, regulations and programs in place in almost every sphere of our society. They are doomed to fail if we do not have the leadership awareness to make them work. Without leadership awareness and application these often very expensive programs become nothing more than bureaucratic obstacles. We do not necessarily need many more programs and systems. We need to make the existing ones work by focusing on the leadership attributes that make it work.

Key personal questions:

Are you as an individual aware of your First Profession? Are you aware of the leadership attributes and skills that empower you to move people’s attitudes and situations around you? Have you taken the time to list these attributes? Do you face the negative perceptions in your attitude that stand in the way of you fulfilling your leadership heritage?




Adriaan, as an accomplished author and leadership advisor, has been interviewing and working with top leaders for more than 15 years. He is the Co-Founder and CEO of Leadership Platform. (Twitter: @AdriaanG_LP)

Call: +27 (0)12 653 3022
Email: info@leadershipplatform.com

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Leadership Platform is a specialist leadership development consultancy, focusing on creating measurable impact to the bottom line through the enhancement of leadership understanding and engagement.


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