Authentic Leadership—Sparking Hope

Leadership begins with self-leadership. Only those who are self-sufficient instead of emulating others or an ideal can develop the potential of the people entrusted to them and awaken hope in them.

Only those who can lead themselves can lead others. This statement of Father Anselm Grün has had a lasting influence on Bodo Janssen, as he writes in his book “Die stille Revolution: Führen mit Sinn und Menschlichkeit” (Amazon Affiliate-Link). This week I had the extraordinary privilege to finally meet Father Anselm Grün personally and to experience first hand the full depth of this insight.

Not only I did take away something from the meeting, but also Father Anselm Grün, namely the Manifesto for Human(e) Leadership.
Not only I did take away something from the meeting, but also Father Anselm Grün, namely the Manifesto for Human(e) Leadership.

Original Not Copy

Leading oneself begins with knowing oneself and accepting oneself in one’s unique being. But many people today increasingly feel that they are not good enough. They constantly compare themselves and imitate other people or pursue an abstract ideal image. The unique original that we all once were becomes a pale copy.

We are all born originals – why is it so many of us die copies?

Edward Young

Those who live in the fear of not being enough need confirmation and admiration from outside. This is exactly why social media exert such an attraction on people and thereby strengthens this tendency to constantly compare oneself with others more and more. Whoever leads out of this attitude will keep employees small and dependent. Only those who have recognized and accepted the unique and authentic nature of their own person can enviously and wholeheartedly unleash the unique potential of the people entrusted to them and make others successful.

Inner Images

Besides this inner image of how we are and how we have to be, we carry many other inner images with us more or less unconsciously. For example, we can see life as a struggle or as a miracle. We can see our work as a rat race and treadmill or as a workshop for prosperous life. And we can see our employees as unwilling to work or motivated. These inner images, created through education and experience, now determine how we experience the world. We have the choice.

The last of the human freedoms: to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

Viktor Frankl

We can become aware of these inner images and we can replace them with better ones. Ideally with images that correspond to “life dreams” that we had as children. And to get closer to these again in a first step, it helps to ask: What did I play enthusiastically without getting tired? If we then manage to transfer these images to our work, we can give it a profound meaning.

Sparking Hope

For Father Anselm Grün, good leadership means to go to his work full of hope and to spark hope among the co-workers. For this, especially our inner images must speak a language of hope. To see life as a struggle and work as an inevitable rat race and annoying evil, does not inspire much hope. But to see life as a miracle or play, and work as a place of encounter and individual development, has much more potential for hope.

Have hopes, but never have expectations. Then you might experience miracles, but never disappointments.

Franz von Assisi

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