Leading through visibility
There is widespread recognition that simply managing people to undertake tasks is not leadership. We seek leaders who set aside personal interest for the benefit of others, and who recognise humility is required to focus on the needs and aspirations of those they lead, rather than themselves. Authentic leaders are in demand; leaders with a growth mindset and the self-awareness to accurately assess their limitations and treat others with respect.
Frances Hesselbein was 54 years old before she accepted her first professional job. For twenty years before that she had volunteered as a troop leader with a local Girl Scouts group. She would eventually go on to become the CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA, leading a three-million-member organisation and US$300 million cookie business. Hesselbein was eventually awarded twenty-three honorary doctorates as well as the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour in the United States. She died at the age of 107 on 15 December 2022.
When Frances retired at 75 years of age, highly respected management and strategy expert Peter Drucker described her as the best CEO in the country. Without any formal qualifications and starting her career late in life, Hesselbein became a visible role model for what is possible and how leaders are amongst us, every day.
“I did not intend to become a leader. I just learned by doing what was needed at the time.” - Frances Hesselbein to David Esptein in his book, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
How can you lead through visibility in public or private this week?
You can read more in my latest book, Head & Heart: The Art of Modern Leadership, which is available everywhere.