Joseph was a successful young lawyer working in the Sydney CBD. A smart, efficient, and highly educated young man.
At one of our meetings, he related an incident to me that led him to reflect on the concept of leadership.
“A few years ago, my taxi dropped me 200 meters away from my office.
I wanted to walk. It was early in the morning, and Sydney was still calm and silent. At the time, I believed that I had nothing to learn about leadership.
At an intersection near the Australian Stock Exchange, a man was waiting, alone, for the green light. He was tall and young, wearing shorts and a dirty T-shirt. He had a small, blue backpack. I immediately judged him as lacking. A loser, I said to myself.
While we were both waiting, our gazes crossed. There was no smile on his face, no anger either, just an incredible expression of power. I had never seen such eyes before. His gaze was so intense that I had to look away. I had no idea who this guy was, but he shook me to the core.”
Joseph was silent for a while. Then, he concluded:
“For months, I thought about that encounter. I thought I was a good leader, but in truth, I was not. People were letting me lead because of my qualifications and status. It took me a year before I accepted that my leadership was ego-driven.
The two things I realised were: –
- I was judgemental and dismissive. This unhealthy habit stopped me from creating loyal employees. No wonder, growing my legal practice was so hard.
- To me, a leader is, above all, a person who has an uncommonly deep and powerful inner strength. The ability to influence comes later once your values are recognised and espoused.”
Note: This case study is based on fact. The name and profession of the subject have been changed to maintain confidentiality.