Leadership is a Transmission

Leadership is a Transmission: A New Era of Leadership 

For the first time in a hundred years or so, the model for leadership has changed. Command and control leadership was the hallmark of the old paradigm. There was a clear dominance hierarchy (usually led by a male supreme commander) and a collection of all-knowing leaders who steered organizations towards their pre-destined futures. 

We have certainly seen different versions of this, but the main themes have largely been the same. 

In the last 50 years, we’ve slowly relaxed some of the hierarchy, allowed tiny pockets of diversity, embraced the thoughts and opinions of others, and made way for slivers of humanity in our corporate leaders. 

More recently, we’ve seen a shift yet again. In addition to strategy and finance, we’ve been teaching leaders about vulnerability, emotional intelligence, communication, and so-called soft skills. Yet these are often treated as bolt-ons to an otherwise narrow, stoic, reserved core.  

Even today, as strict hierarchy, control and one-dimensional leadership are waning, leadership still follows a linear, structured approach that is focused far more on intellect and strategy than it is on depth, purpose and connection. It’s left people asking themselves: “Haven’t we already watched this movie?” They’re right. At best, it’s like a poorly done sequel. 

In this new era, what people are craving is more depth, more connection, and more heart from the people they choose to follow. They want range, they want imperfection, they want humanity. 

Great people don’t care how much money you’ve made, how many companies you’ve bought and sold or what kind of car you drive. They look to your depth, your purpose and your convictions to decide whether you’re worth following. And if they can’t get it from you, they’ll find someone else to lead them. 

Sure, they want them to be intelligent, come up with great strategies and deliver on them. Yet, there is far too much emphasis on this intellectual side of leadership and not nearly enough on the rest. In short, people are craving leaders who lead less with their heads and more with their hearts. 

Leadership is a Transmission: Born in the Mind. Grown in the Heart. Transmitted through the Body.

A lot of you are probably thinking: “Great! I am one of these leaders…” And no doubt you are. You wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t. 

The question is this: Does anyone know this but you? Do your depth, clarity and convictions exist outside of your own thoughts? 

No one can read your mind so the only way people know you as a leader is through your transmission. 

Moment to moment, you are a transmission of something. What are you a transmission of? How strong is this transmission? How deep is this transmission? How clear is this transmission? 

And, to be clear, Leadership is a transmission. 

It starts in the mind to be sure. You have to know your values, your purpose, where you’re headed, where you’re leading others. These are the entry requirements for leadership. Necessary, but nowhere near sufficient. In this new era, what makes people want to follow you has very little to do with what’s going on in your head.

Instead, it’s about what your body is saying. It’s the skill with which you can translate your inner world to the outside world. It’s about how deeply people can feel your presence. The depth of your breath. The texture of your voice. Your ability to respond to a moment. The depth with which you can feel. Your ability to be still. The clarity with which you take action.

Your transmission is about so much more than just your body language. Anyone can hack their way through eye contact and power posing. Tuning your transmission is a deep nervous system rewiring that few leaders have the courage to take on. Yet it’s the differentiator for leaders in this new era.

As a leader in this new era, if you’re choosing to lead then you’re choosing to be a stand for something, choosing to show up in the world and make a difference. When you make this choice, you’re also making a choice to take great care of your transmission. 

The question is: are you willing to take this on?