The Tapestry of Leadership

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reading a book by Kevin Cashman, Leadership from the Inside Out. If you’ve not read it, the book argues that leaders must transform themselves from task-specific expertise to a type of leadership that is based upon self-discovery and relationships. I’ve enjoyed the book’s leadership perspective. Rather than presenting leadership development as a hierarchical process, leadership is presented as a circular diagram that doesn’t necessarily equate value with one stage over another. I think this is an interesting approach and one I understand.

Often, leadership theeories and models place value judgments on leadership.  We’re told that leadership is a ladder, and we feel that we should be progressing toward a certain level of attainment or achievement.  In reality, leadership is a journey, don’t you think?  Whether it’s through a blog, social media, or research, each of us, in our own way contributes to one another’s leadership development. We all contribute to the body of knowledge as we share our thoughts and experiences. When it comes to leadership, we should strive to contribute to something much larger than ourselves. It’s one of the thing I try to do through my own blog. 

I equate this to a large tapestry.  We may not create more than one stitch in this tapestry but it’s a composition that enables greater understanding as we continue further along on the journey.  Only from a distance, only with time, may we look back and recognize a pattern on this tapestry.  And quite honestly, there is also a chance many of us will never see the pattern but we still have contributed to something much greater than ourselves.  This is what I believe when I  say that leadership is more like a journey.  We are perhaps a spoke in the wheel but we’re also part of a greater whole. There is no final destination but an exploration and self-realization of where we are in our stage of leadership.

Note: Here’s the information on the book – By Kevin Cashman, Leadership from the inside out: Becoming a leader for life. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler