Take a moment to think about ‘Leader’. What comes to mind? A heroic leader leading a charge into battle? A thought leader launching new ideas and new connections between ideas? A spiritual leader bringing their sense of life, community wisdom, meaning, connection to ‘the greater’? Maybe a business leader, or political leader or community leader or…?

What do all these people have in common? There are endless books on leaders and theories on leadership, so fill this space with your favourite. Common themes include, for example, by comparing ‘leader’ and ‘manager’ archetypes, that a leader is creating a future different to the past (as opposed to maximising efficiency and reliability).

It may be a future of their imagining and vision. It may be a future they’ve bought into in some way. They also just get on and make it happen, as opposed to just thinking about it. And they give people the confidence to go through whatever change is required.

Call it inspiration, motivation, charisma, whatever, change can be scary, and a leader in some way enables (occasionally, for some personality types, forces) people to make the journey between this way and the new way.

So as coaches, what is our leadership potential? Can we imagine a future different to now? Tick. Can we imagine how to get from here to there? Tick. Can we move ourselves and others to action? Tick. Can we support people going through the transition from this way to that way? Well, I hope so!

So, if there’s something we care about, some future we want as opposed to what will unfold by following the current track, what’s stopping us from being absolutely brilliant role model leaders?

Professionally, of course, our skills are about serving the client and their agenda. But I’m minded of a story I heard about elephant training. You tie a young elephant to a big tree and in various ways get the young elephant to recognise there’s no point pulling on the rope – it’s tied, it isn’t going anywhere, that’s it. So when it becomes a grown elephant, with that belief installed, you can tie it to a twig. The elephant won’t move. In our world we have a description of such things – limiting beliefs.

So I’m wondering…there is no shortage of issues facing us locally, let alone globally. Given the phenomenal skills we have as a community, how much action are we galvanising around our own agenda, about what we care about for family, friends, communities, future generations? We talk about unlocking potential, but how much of our own potential are we unlocking? What are the fears and limiting beliefs standing in our way?

I was at a recent international coaching community gathering. The main subjects: proving ROI, the case for supervision, improving our professional reputation.

People, we are playing very, very, very small. There’s pain in the world. And possibility.

We can be leaders. We just need to untie ourselves from the twigs.

To be honest, I don’t think much more is going to come from my generation. We’ve had plenty of time. There’s been great work, for sure. But overall, is it enough?

I look forwards to seeing the new young elephants recognise ‘it’s only a twig, guys’ and, to gasped shock from us old lags, break free and do something amazing.


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