Last year my wife, Alicia, and I were visiting Escanaba in the upper peninsula of Michigan. We went on a walk, and as we were walking along the coastline there with our son, we came upon a beautiful lighthouse. It had been built in the 1860's and stood on the edge of the shoreline to warn ships away from a sand reef that laid nearby.
Lighthouses were once widely used, but finding one that is still fully operational is becoming more and more difficult. These beacons of light would guide ships towards safe harbor or serve as a warning that there were dangers nearby. Ships relied on and looked to lighthouses to help them navigate safely. And they were especially useful when ships were caught in dark, treacherous and challenging waters.
Regardless of where lighthouses were located, they all served the same purpose: to protect and guide.
This, too, is the heart of leadership.
And unfortunately, like lighthouses today, leaders also seem to be harder and harder to find. They're out there. I seem them everywhere. But they're not activated. They're not turned on. Their lights aren't shining.
And a lot of that is because we have a mistaken understanding of what leadership truly is.
Leaders are beacons of light. Leadership is not a position of authority but rather a choice to take responsibility for the care of others. Leaders would sooner sacrifice what is theirs in order to save what is all of ours.
They stand amidst the storms and dangers of this world in order to guide you towards a greater vision, to create for you a place of safety, and call you up into living a more intentional and powerful life.
Leadership isn't about profit. It's about people. That's the heart of it.
Authentic, truly powerful leaders--whether you're leading your family or a nation--aim to liberate the heart of both themselves and others; so that out of that liberation their true power can be revealed.
Who are you being as a leader?
Are you a beacon of light when it's dark? A compass for when we're lost? Truth among lies?
It is time that we reclaim what it means to be a leader, to return to the heart of leadership. It's time that we become the leader we wish we had.