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Is Leadership Lost?

My newest opportunity has me considering so many things about leadership. I was lucky enough to not only experience leadership within our family, but to watch my father lead with such integrity that it would be hard pressed for me not to have deep respect and belief in the meaning of true leadership.

I have the great honor of hosting a new podcast with Leon Media Network this fall. The title is "If You Lead Them," it's true testament to the leap I took a few years ago in order to expand my professional realm, to get to work with an amazing group on a topic that has been my favorite area of study since grad school.

As I've been preparing future episodes I've been doing my research. While the majority of my income is made in my online business, this podcast will be broad. I'll be interviewing corporate industry leaders, government officials, business professionals, small town leaders, authors, and many more.

For years I have wondered:

  • Where is the leadership?

  • What do people expect from leadership?

  • Have we lost all concept of (integrity in) leadership?

  • Who are the leaders and what determines and defines leadership? Where is the proof?

  • Is there hope for a future without effective leadership or solid expectations of the term?

While my leadership musings are often assumed to be connected to my network marketing experiences, the truth is that I am most often "inspired" by news stories, education, the government, the state of the economy, as well as the general mindset of communities both large and small.

I seek articles and news sources for what is happening in leadership. Right now, more than ever, I'm so curious to learn...WHERE ARE THE LEADERS?

One thing I do often think about, that is linked to direct sales, are the titles given and how meaningless they are, how dangerous that is. I understand the need for giving titles, they exist in every company, every firm, every small business, often in order to determine a pay scale more than anything.


How much are we diluting the true meaning of leadership with this, in every situation? What is the impact it has on everyone? Are there any meaningful requirements or expectations outside of management? Because, I hope we can all agree, management and leadership are two completely different spheres.

When I first began with a company because I wanted free product, I shared in order to avoid having to pay for my supplies. As I shared, others wanted to as well. I had told my friend who recruited me that I would never build a team or recruit. I always loved leadership and leading, it was my favorite piece of being an educator...instilling leadership, but a direct sales company was not where I saw myself leading. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE what I do now, but I take my position seriously. I have high expectations for myself above all else, I will not call myself a leader without being a leader.

That said, as soon as three people signed up under me I was considered a "Leader." I had no idea this had happened. My friend had to call and tell me. "Congrats! You're a Team Leader!" I didn't know what it meant, what the responsibilities were, if there were any benefits to it, how to lead (I barely understood anything myself). Yet now...I was a leader, leading blind. I didn't know what a compensation plan was, or even a little bit about how ours worked. At the time I didn't even understand how the products themselves worked, yet I was a "leader."

One thing I did know, if I was a leader, I was sure as sh*t going to lead, and lead well. The community and relationships I had was a testament to that. The growth of wealth told a different story. Community, Trust, Safety, Direction, Vision, and Success are all critical components of what determines a strong leader, none are mutually exclusive. It cannot be just a few.

This was essentially the entire reason I decided to resign. I could no longer lead with integrity. I questioned myself and my leadership a lot, I had not taken time to know as much as I should have and, for how much I had learned in those years and how seriously I had taken my leadership, I had not understood enough.

Leadership is too precious of a position, too important, too relied upon, to just hand out the title as if it's nothing. It's not just in direct sales, it's everywhere. There are "Leadership" positions at Best Buy and Starbucks, law firms and banks, offices large and small, "leaders" are everywhere. But...are they? What is required? How can leadership be something that is revered and trusted when we throw the title upon people who may have no idea how to encourage, teach, envision, or empower. Why do we offer the opportunity to hold such a meaningful title to those who may have little communication skill, capacity for learning, approachability, experience in empathy, or true experience?

It seems pervasive and so concerning to me that the term Leadership has been so diluted that as a society we no longer expect greatness, let alone trust, the leadership positions.

I grew up in a family of leaders. I watched my father lead a great Fire Department long before it was his official title or job. I watched as he led with authenticity, care, concern, knowledge, and so many great characteristics true to the term, while someone else was at the helm because the position was so often given to those who suited politics. When he did finally become the Chief, he continued to lead with such integrity that decades later he remains a public speaker for, and honored piece of, the department's rich history. He was the first to work through every single position in the department, he led with understanding and experience. He was loved, trusted, respected, and revered, he still is to this day. He taught me about leadership. He is my inspiration.

An article I came upon today referred to the breakdown of leadership during the 2008 economic crisis and it had me wondering if it was even read by anyone. Have we learned anything? Is Leadership lost?

While the focus was on leaders in the financial realm, this piece gave me hope that the meaning of leadership is still alive, somewhere.

"Leaders should have five characteristics in common:
1. They should be authentic leaders, focused on serving their clients and all the institution's constituents, rather than charismatic leaders seeking money, fame, and power for themselves.
2. They should place the interests of their institutions and society as a whole above their own interests.
3. They should have the integrity to tell the whole truth, admit their mistakes, and acknowledge their shortcomings. Authentic leadership is not about being perfect. It is having the courage to admit when you're wrong and to get on with solving problems, rather than covering them up.
4. They need to adapt quickly to new realities, changing themselves as well as their institutions, rather than going into denial when things don't go as intended.
5. They need the resilience to bounce back after devastating losses. Resilience enables leaders to restore trust by empowering people to create new solutions that build great institutions for the future.

So, I beg the question of anyone who has read this. Do you have faith in leadership? Are you being led well?

If you are in a leadership position, are you earning it, every single day?

I truly want to know. I want to know that we can grow to appreciate, respect, and EXPECT leadership to mean something. I want to know if you have hope.

It's more than a title, Leadership is an action and a mindset as well as results. I hope if you lead in any capacity, that you never take for granted the responsibility and honor that should come with that.

I know it's a big task, but I will die trying to save the world through encouraging true leadership on every level.

I hope you are well today, as always, I would love your thoughts-

With love and respect,

Katie B.

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