If you want to lead others you’ll need to see that leadership is far more than making sure people know what to do or that they get things done.
One place to look is your capacity to discern the mood of those around you, and to cultivate new moods.
Every mood has its own space of possibility.
In resentment, frustration and resignation the space is tiny – oriented only around that which we want to have happen but which eludes us. In despair too – every action burdened, every idea too heavy to lift.
In cynicism nothing can touch us – no idea, no invitation, no possibility brings us in close enough to engage.
In hope, possibilities open up again for us… perhaps there is a way forward. In joy and love we discover what moves us, enlivens us, energises us to take action on what we care about.
In acceptance we find our capacity to stay focussed even through the turns of life in the chaotic, unpredictable world as well as in times of order. In gratitude we notice again and again the privilege of being up to something alongside others.
Ignoring mood is like ignoring the weather – going out in the snow in your summer clothes and claiming you won’t freeze.
And because moods aren’t private it’s helpful to discern what your own moods are. If you’re in a position where others look to you, your moods will be having more of a shaping effect than you can imagine.
But, mostly, your leadership is going to call on you to cultivate new moods in yourself and in others. You can’t force it – demanding a mood won’t work out here. Nor will accepting other people faking their mood.
So start by wondering. What are the places, people, conversations, practices that can cultivate the moods that make possible what you and those around you care about? What are you doing that brings them about? What are you doing that thwarts them?
If you’re paying this no attention, or if you’re actively cultivating resentment, cynicism, frustration or resignation, you’re further away from leading than you think.