Stance (from the Italian word stanza): the way in which someone stands; a person’s posture. The attitude of a person or organization toward something; a standpoint. (Google dictionary)
Taking that a step further, Merriam-Webster defines stance as: a way of standing or being placed; posture; intellectual or emotional attitude.
So, let’s talk about stance as it relates to leadership.
A leadership stance refers to the set of beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, and characteristics that an individual adopts and actualizes in their role as a leader. It represents an approach, a way of guiding and mentoring others, along with an overall leadership style.
It is both a philosophy and a demonstration; it’s a noun and a verb.
A strong leadership stance varies from one leader to another. However, there are several attributes that often are often present: confidence, integrity, vision, empathy, resiliency, courage, the ability to inspire and communicate with others, decisiveness, humility, and accountability.
Of course, we need to take a step back and create the context for how we define leadership. Too often in our culture, the definition of leadership gets warped or is outdated. Leadership is not about power, unless we are talking about power from within (or empowerment).
Leadership is about the three I’s: inspiration, influence, and impact.
It’s an illustration of love in action. Leadership is about lifting others into their highest potential and helping them to access their greatest gifts. Leadership is about extending your torch so that you can help others light their candles and the fire within them.
Leadership is a choice
Over the course of a decade, I have spend countless hours studying leadership from every angle. What I’ve learned is that leadership is simple (I didn’t say easy). Leadership is fundamentally a function of three things:
- How you choose to show up
- How you choose to serve others
- How you choose to take personal responsibility
That’s it. Because inside that space are ALL the things. If you go back to the list above … these three aspects of leadership encompass all of them. For leaders are courageous and empathic. Humble, yet strong. Passion, yet steadfast. Decisive, confident, and accountable.
All from a place of integrity, alignment, and authenticity.
When I think of leadership, real leadership … not the makeshift water-down version or power-hungry antics we often see in our culture and in organizations. I am talking about heart-centered, transformational leadership that feeds the soul of people, and of our businesses.
This type of leadership occurs ONLY when we choose to lead from love, with love. When we rise from the question: How may I serve?
Imagine an illustration of this leadership stance as the truest form of a mighty superhero. One where you envision a leader who has one hand extended forward AND who also has one had extended back.
One Hand Forward
The hand forward represents humility and having a learner mentality. The leader is reaching forward to the mentors and leaders ahead of them, seeking knowledge and wisdom from others’ experiences. They yearn to learn, stretch, be challenged, expand and grow.
They know how to ask for help and admit when they falter. They’re open to feedback as they understand feedback is essential for mastery. They listen, observe, explore, and stay curious. Always the student as they grow.
One Hand Back
The hand back represents an understanding that for every step forward, one must also be willing to reach back to bring others along the way.
They help others climb as they climb.
These leaders recognize the value of giving back, of mentoring, and in guiding others to shine, as well. They aren’t selfish or degrading. They maintain a level of patience, compassion, and understanding. They learn how to be both the student and the teacher.
Leaders lift and raise other leaders.
For one truly cannot lead, if they are not giving others opportunity to lead. Leadership is a choice, and it’s a team sport (not an individual one). It’s everyone’s opportunity. For each of us can lead from where we are, with what we have, standing in our gifts and light, and share that with others.
Leadership is a condition and an act of service … an act of love.
When we come from humility and humanity, the leadership stance become one of one hand forward and one hand back. For this is where we create the most powerful leadership stance of all.