In service of whom? In service of what? These are two powerful questions leaders should ask themselves more often. While some people seem to be natural leaders, behind the scenes they lead in service of something.
This article will explore the concept of the leadership noble cause; what is it and why should you have one as a leader?
What is a noble cause?
A few years ago, I followed a Tribal Leadership training course given by CultureSync. The course helped widen my perspective around leadership. One of the key learning was around discovering our leadership noble cause.
The premise of the noble cause is that we lead in service of something greater than ourselves. This can be something that created outrage in our lives and that we never want to happen again. It can also simply be a cause that is near and dear to our heart.
The key notion here is that our noble cause is about being in service of something larger than ourselves. As an achiever, capable of doing a lot of things, I had a hard time understanding what this meant when I first heard it.
Something larger than ourselves means something we cannot do alone. To be in service to our noble cause, we need to collaborate or serve the people around us.
One way to enrich your noble cause is to tie it to your core values in a leadership declaration. Core values are a lot like your DNA, they are the values that represent you the most. They represent who you are and who you are unable not to be.
As an example, here is my own personal leadership declaration:
My name is Steffan Surdek and my core values are passion, dedication and integrity. My noble cause is to help people discover the greatness within themselves and live their lives with purpose and passion.
How is this useful?
We live in what can be a very individualistic world at times. Having a noble cause can help you ground yourself deeper in your values. It can also help you measure your words before you say them or your actions before you take them.
Your words, actions or even behaviours should align with your noble cause for you to be in service of it. Right now, you may be reading this thinking this is too soft to apply in the real world or in business in general.
The Hippocratic Oath that doctors take is a lot like a noble cause in a sense. It helps guide some of their decisions as well. The same principle applies with the noble cause.
The idea as well is that your noble cause speaks to your leadership everywhere in your life. Mine is the reason why I work as a coach, a trainer and a keynote speaker. It also guides how I raise my kids and get involved in the communities around me. It guides the articles that I write and what I talk about. It also gives me the patience to deal with resistance to change and to work on capacity building with my clients.
Your leadership origin story…
Pretty much every comic book hero has an origin story. You know, the story about that key event that changed their life in a way that triggered them to become a superhero. For Batman, it is the death of his parents, for Spiderman it is getting bit by a spider.
Leaders also have a similar origin story. Take a moment to recall those first moments when you stepped into your leadership in your life. What led you to take that first step? Did someone violate one of your core values? Which one(s) did they step on? Did you step into your leadership in service of a specific cause?
Some believe you are born with leadership abilities, so you are a natural leader or you are not a leader. Although it may be true for some people, for many these abilities are there, but remain dormant. They remain dormant inside until an event forces them to step into their leadership.
Come back to those first moments when you stepped into your leadership. What patterns can you see? What are some of your strongest core values? What is the strongest cause that tickles and feeds your leadership?
From this information, can you start building your own leadership declaration? Remember, your first leadership declaration will not be perfect. Like clothes, you need to try it on for size a few times before you find the right one.
Having a leadership declaration can help you become a more mindful leader in your life. Keep it as broad and inspiring for you as you can. Your leadership declaration can help you everywhere in your life, not only in a work context.
Being in service to a cause instead of yourself will help you become more inspiring for others. The challenge is finding a cause that is larger than yourself and that you cannot achieve alone. The other challenge is lining up your words, actions and behaviours to be in service of your noble cause.
What does your leadership declaration look like? How do you currently align your words, actions and behaviours to be in support of it? How could your life look if you had a clear leadership declaration?