There are many different types of leaders, and many different ways to lead.
In the past, the question of who the leader was could be answered by the org chart. If you were in the box at the top (or you at least had a bunch of boxes underneath you), you were a leader. No more. As organizations change, the notion of what is and is not a leader changes, too.
Today, leaders may have any or all of the following characteristics, wherever their box is on the chart--
They develop and share knowledge.
They influence direction and strategy.
They manage people or client relationships.
They bring in revenue.
They help others develop in their careers.
I'm sure that you can think of many others. And while some of these skills are no different than the skills that were needed years ago, what has changed is the environment. In short, things are more ambiguous than ever and changing faster and faster.
The skills that we learned in school are obsolete; I was taught programming in FORTRAN in college; off the shelf software barely existed. (Nor did email, the Internet, smart phones ...) Whole industries have been created and destroyed in just the last ten years. Content changes to fast to keep up. So what can we do, as leaders, to keep ourselves relevant?
We can't do anything. But we can be.
It is our being, our very presence, that allows us to be leaders. Think of the people whom you follow in your own life. It is not the person who knows the most, or who works the hardest. Instead, it is someone whose very presence inspires you.
I believe this presence can be learned.
Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that if you stand this way or dress that way you will have presence. Presence comes from the inside. But it comes from the practices that we have been talking about in this blog. When we practice meditation, when we investigate our own awareness, we begin to see the fiction of a solid self. We realize that we are all connected, and that our egos only get in the way. When our personal agendas begin to drop, we connect with others in ways that we did not think were possible. We have ideas, as individuals and groups, that we would not have had. We create solutions that embrace our differences, and we find those differences are not nearly so great as we once thought they were.
We can do that no matter what our job title, our role, or our box on the chart. We can do that no matter what we know or what we have done.
Through our practice, our very presence can open a space of conversation, connection, and trust.