The 5W1H of Responsible Leadership
There really is no perfect age to be a successful leader. However, some people flourish earlier than most. So, what does make those young leaders able to take charge of immense obligations?
First of all, there are so many questions about leadership itself. Is leadership a skill or trait? How did they take such a responsibility while others can’t? Most of the research about leadership focuses on the peripheral elements of the leader (for example: their traits, personality, etc). There are indeed still a few cases that explore more about the essential nature of leadership itself. Perhaps it is the biggest blind spot in leadership research.
Our fascination with young leaders led us to seek out “the secret recipe” of what were the attributes that enable them to go from something of a regular folk to a leader in their youth. What are the essential nature of those young leaders?
In order to get that recipe, Daya Dimensi Indonesia and Pemimpin.id developed a targeted interview with 9 Indonesia’s-under-40 leaders based on Kempster & Jackson (2021).
WHAT— are the leaders pursuing as their purposes?
Leaders are driven by their burning desire to make a positive impact
One of the fundamental questions when talking about the essentials of leadership is what their purpose in life is. Most of them said that their goal is to achieve the mission and/or solving the problem. By achieving the mission and/or solving the problems, they could achieve their ultimate objective: to make an impact on the people and their surroundings. As one of the leaders once told us “Leadership is getting results done, getting results, and creating impact from those results.”
While some people aspire to be in the top position to gain positional power, their true calling is to make an impact itself, not the position nor title. They use their position to get the authority so that they could use their ability to influence people to make sure they are on the same page to achieve the mission.
These leaders also set “the make an impact” not only as their main purpose as a leader, but as their personal value as well. This personal value and their leadership’s purpose affects each other’s business which shapes the leaders to become leaders with full purpose as they are today.
Constantly questioning everything, is a small habit they always do
Habits are how we live out our purpose. When they were asked what kind of small habits they still do that have helped them to become leaders, the answer was incredibly important advice: they often questioned things around them. This small yet compelling habit affects them in leading, especially to find the purpose they mentioned above. By asking questions about something that disquiet them, it helps them to get more perspective, get exposed from so many angles, and let them experience many things to “sail the ship”.
Take a risk, grab the opportunity. From there on: keep hungry to learn, listen to others–feedback is beneficial.
During their leadership moment, these leaders get various lessons learned. They mentioned that in order to be a great leader you need to always take a risk. Notably, do not ever be doubtful to take the opportunity in sight. These leaders note an important message to this situation: “The real challenge of being a leader is how we need to remain confident and humble at the same time.”
While most of us are afraid of judgment and tend to avoid feedback, these leaders are hungry for feedback. In their point of view, feedback is a beneficial thing. These leaders see feedback as “the more you learn to be open, the more you expose yourself to your blind spots, the bigger the organization, the smarter people around you, the more dull you feel, which is good. You’re getting more visible to see your weakness. That’s when the feedback appears, so, it feels like we’re still evolving”.
WHY— would they want to take on the responsibility of being a leader?
When no one wants to step up as a leader, they’ll be willing to give themselves up to being the “conductor” to achieve the mutual purposes
Most of the time, many of us also have the concern; have the purpose we want to achieve. Yet, not everyone has the courage and willingness to step up as the conductor. This common ground will be nothing if no one has the courage to give themselves up to step forward and reverberate themself as the leader. This is the reason why the leaders are willing to take on the responsibility of being the leader. The leader told us, ”when no one wants to step up, so I step up, and I am there to serve.”. When no one wants to step forward, on the other hand, there is an urge to achieve mutual purpose, these leaders are the one who voluntarily become the conductor.
Aside from that, being the leader is one of the ways for them to fulfil their purpose: give an impact, contribute to others
What’s more, from these leaders’ point of view, by being a leader it is a way to contribute to others. As the leaders mentioned “One thing that needs to be understood is, why am I being a leader is a form of gratitude for me, I have been helped a lot by other people, good people indeed. Well, being a leader is one way to repay their kindness, continue their kindness, even if it’s not directly to them.”. What kind of contribution could they offer? By giving their thoughts, energy, and ideas in order to give back to others and society. Perception of lacking materials or resources does not stop them to take a stage as a leader.
WHEN AND WHERE— did they learn about leadership?
Family is the first place they learn to take responsibility
The proverbial saying ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, so does leadership. Leadership is not built overnight, in fact, family background and parenting also turn out play an important role which is one of the factors that form a leadership. For instance, as simple as a habit of taking care of our little brother/sister at home, becoming one of the forerunners to learn a sense of responsibility. This sense of responsibility has been instilled by their parents since they were kids. Thus, the forms of sense of responsibility that are taught or exemplified are different. Some of them were taught to be brave at making decisions, others were taught to be a free thinker and emphasize the importance of empathy. It is safe to say that the family took a role to spur the development of their leadership.
Joining organization at school becomes a place for them to hold the position of “the chairman” for the first time
As they grow and start their education at school, they begin to explore themselves by entering into organizations. Organizations such as OSIS (student council), school extracurricular, sport club, and so on become their “laboratory” to experiment on the- how-to leadership. Some of them have been chosen by their friends to become the lead because they seem capable of giving them direction. On the contrary, others self- appointed themselves to be the lead. They believe that being the head of the organization is an opportunity for them to spur the development of themselves. They want to train themselves on how to be braver; to speak up their mind.
Gaining the opportunity to become leader in the organization they work for and build their own organization later on
Thereafter they enter the “real world”, these leaders continue to carry on their leadership-flag where they work. They were chosen to be the team leader, as a consequence, it is in the workplace that they really feel the difficulty of being a leader. It is the time where their leadership abilities are highly challenged. In fact, it is in the workplace that they realize that they are surrounded by brilliant people and begin to understand the importance of teamwork. On the point that they already developed their skill, some of these leaders finally decided to build their own organization to fulfill their true purposes.
FOR WHOM— did they take on the responsibility of being a leader?
Everyone is a driving factor for these leaders. Their mentor plays a big role in it.
As a leader whose main goal is to make an impact, similar to a superhero, these leaders also view everyone around them as their responsibility. Moreover, folks around them such as their parents, team members, friends, and their surroundings are certainly their main focus for whom they take on the responsibility. They also become someone’s who inspire these leaders.
In an important sense, something unique about them is that most of them have a mentor, and this mentor plays a big role in their leadership journey. “Every great leader has a mentor”, say these leaders. They added, “Through my mentor, I was able to explore a lot of values in personal stories, and the case is also very relevant to me. Someone’s I can look up to”.
HOW— Conveying the vision clearly is the way they all agree as a tool to fulfil the purpose.
Conveying the vision clearly is the way they all agree as a tool to fulfil the purpose.
These leaders certainly have their own ways of achieving their purpose. Though there is one thing they all believe: it is important to be able to convey a clear vision so their team members get the messages. Now the real deal is how do you get team members to walk in the same direction when they get their own point of view? Indeed, everyone has their own perspective and that, oftentimes, different. Since everyone works differently, these leaders need to break down the meaning of their vision. Notably at the CEO level, the ability to convey a message in a clear and sharp way to the team manager is very important. A final insight, breaking down the vision is the key to fulfil our purpose.
“Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”
– Peter F. Drucker
Read the last article by Daya Dimensi Indonesia here.