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Do You Want to be a Societal Leader?

Leading in society is much more demanding than leading an organisation because you need to attract followers—people who choose to support you and your ideas.

This will mean lots of discussions, debates and presentations. You will need to be in the limelight, and you will need to defend your ideas. If you become a local or national politician, the more successful you are, the more your life will come under intense public scrutiny.

If you have already been a leader of an organisation you will have experience in these areas. If you have not, you may want to reflect. The questions you need to answer before you embark on becoming a societal leader are: Is this the life you are cut out for? Is this what you want to do? Does this role take you out of your comfort zone?

If you are a person who prefers to work behind the scenes or feels uncomfortable in front of large groups, you may want to align your passion for making a difference to an established leader or cause. If you do become a societal leader, you need to be aware of four conditions that are necessary for attracting and retaining followers:

  • Clarity of purpose
  • Exemplary self leadership skills
  • The ability to inspire others
  • The ability to leverage your ideas

Clarity of purpose: Keep your message simple: What is your big idea, and what do you stand for? Keep yourself focused. Keep true to your purpose. It is so easy when you become a recognised leader to get pulled or drawn into peripheral areas that eat away your time and energy without contributing to your purpose. You are not in a popularity contest, although sometimes it might feel like that. You are here to implement your purpose. If you stay true to your cause, everything else will fall into place.

Exemplary self-leadership skills: If you choose to be political leader everything you do will be subject to intense public scrutiny. You will be expected to lead a blemish free life, and you will be expected to operate with the highest levels of personal integrity. Your constituents will expect that of you and your political opponents will be constantly on the lookout for any personal flaws that they can exploit for political gain. This means that your skills and capabilities in leading yourself will need to be exemplary. Even if you are not a politician, your followers will expect you to act with authenticity and integrity.

Inspiring others: Your ability to inspire others with your message is of primary importance to enlisting followers to your cause. Are you a good public speaker? Do you connect with people emotionally? Do you speak from your soul? Are your slide presentations seductive? Do you have a clear writing style? Do you look clean and tidy? You will need to give all these topics attention if you want people to sign up for your cause. You will need to be a purpose-driven self-actualizer, and you will need to surround yourself with outcome-driven achievers if you are going to be successful in your role.

Leveraging your ideas: There is not much purpose in having a cause and a passion if you are unable to leverage your impact in the world. Clarity of purpose, exemplary self-leadership skills, and the ability to inspire others will all be of help in this regard. If you want to leverage your ideas you will need to become a co-creative servant leader. You will need to be able to work with others in strategic alliances. You will need to make sure your ideas and what you stand for are available in easily digestible materials that others can use to support your cause. Make full use of the social media to publicize your cause. Your job is to start and build a movement. You will only be able to do that if you are able to attract followers and make it easy for them to get your message out.

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