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Leadership is Personal Not Positional- Julie Foudy

Group of Elephant Drinking Water

I am both eager and nervous to delve more deeply into leadership. Leadership starts everything- and it has the power to slow- or end- everything.

Elephants provide an elegant example. They are powerful animals who lead with love and grace and wisdom and play. They lead with cooperation rather than hierarchy.

In another version of elephant leadership, the concept of servant leadership suggests that in leading, we serve those we lead first. The leader is one of the group, a wise and trusted one of the group, but not seen as hierarchically more important. The leader’s purpose is to support the success of the individuals, the well-being of the individuals, the questions of the individuals, the trust among the individuals.

I went to a coaching clinic years ago with a man who was a veteran college soccer coach. He flipped the freshman hazing tradition on its head. The captains of his teams had the privilege of filling water bottles, carrying the balls to the field, and caring for their teams by preparing for practice. After a game, the players who most lifted the team got to run sprints in front of the team. Hard work and service to your team are considered privileges and well celebrated as examples of leadership. The successes of the teams from his small school were incomprehensible.

Simon Sinek is most widely known for his urging to “Find Your Why”- encouraging us to know our purpose before we determine direction. An equally important work of Simon Sinek is Leaders Eat Last– exploring the idea that if leaders empower their people, know their people, trust their people, and work to serve their people, everyone is both more content and more productive.

*I recommend subscribing to Simon Sinek’s daily leadership quotation if his ideas resonate with you. I so often find inspiration in his concise statements.

Education needs good leadership. Okay, everywhere needs good leadership.

Not news.

What makes good leadership?

Which leaders seem to create thriving environments and devoted followings wherever they go?

Which leaders do you meet and want to work for/with? Why is that someone you want to pour into a bucket with?

And Julie Foudy (US Women’s National Soccer Team phenom):

  • “Leadership is personal, not positional.”
  • “Leadership is about believing in yourself.”
  • “Leadership is about believing in others.”
  • “Leadership is about inspiring others.”

She built a Girls’ Leadership Academy that has since morphed. She is passionate about us all building and recognizing leadership in its many forms. Julie Foudy is a beautiful example of the lifting leaders we need.

More on Servant Leadership

Simon Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last

Mindtools on “Servant Leadership”

More on Elephant Leadership

From The University of Capetown “Elephants and Leadership, Family and Nation”

Leadership Blog from “Leading Elephants” Consulting Firm, following the leadership examples of elephants

From The Independent (Helena Williams, not Trent Crimm), “Six Facts about Elephant Families”

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