Growing up in a country that was under constant threats of terror attacks and going thru two wars, was quite an intense experience. It was a normal thing for us to be on a bus and see soldiers carrying weapons or walk into a mall and have to stop for a security check. On the one hand we lived on high alert and on the other hand we felt extremely safe. I remember how as kids we looked at our soldiers as heroes. In high school all the teenage girls wanted to date the captain, the pilot or the tough rugged guy from the elite commando units.
Service is mandatory in Israel so from a young age you were prepped and groomed to be your best, do your best and serve your country. I remember my dream as a teenager was to become an officer in the army, the IDF, (Israeli Defense Force) so I can serve my country. Though I wasn’t allowed to go thru the traditional officer training due to my health challenges, I still found a way around it by becoming a Non Commissioned Officer. When I look back at those days, I wonder where that drive had come from, the desire to serve and the need to lead. Was it within me all along or was it something that I learned? And if it something that was learned, can it be taught to others?
I guess it’s no different than questioning whether leaders are born or groomed.
Personally, I believe that some people have natural leadership skills. I also believe that anyone can become a leader, should they choose. Whether you’re a parent, head of a household or military general, you’re still a leader, your reach and your impact will be different. Leadership can be defined as having four different levels based on that impact and reach.
Level I – Self-leadership
Level II – Positional Leadership
Level III – Inspirational leadership
Level IV – Transformational leadership
Self-leader – becoming a Self-leader requires you to develop discipline, initiative, self-sufficiency and confidence. It is the ability to be proactive in your life and make decisions that move you forward towards your goals by taking action steps for growth. Self-leadership is about leading your own life and mastering yourself.
Positional Leader – that is when you are in charge of others through a position or title you’ve been given. One example is a being a parent, yet it could also be a supervisor or manager at work. Even if your sphere of influence is small and may only include those in your immediate family or your work colleagues, you are relied upon as being a resource to others, guiding them towards making sound decisions. Never discount the effect that you might have. Your leadership directly influences their future. Not all parents, managers or supervisors have natural leadership skills and that is where there is room for growth.
Inspirational leader – when you start influencing a larger community and you become an Inspirational leader, your actions and words are in alignment; you walk your talk and live by example. You’ve mastered the self-leadership qualities of discipline, initiative, self-sufficiency and confidence and have a greater sense of purpose and the desire to contribute on a higher level, moving people to action. This is when you’re expressing more of your personal power and sharing your vision. Your leadership and direction will better the community you live in as long as you are there.
You might wonder, where does a leader move from here? Now that we’ve covered self –leadership, positional leadership and Inspirational leadership, what else is there?
Transformational leader – this is when your leadership transforms others; they in turn change and organically pass those same messages on to others. Whether you are present or not, your impact will last a lifetime. You’ve created a movement, a dynamic change that takes on momentum and evolves. The values and the qualities that you have shared will continue to live in the community even after you’re gone, you’ve created a legacy.
There is no right or wrong as to which level of leadership you achieve. There are no rules for how much or how little you might do, for how big or small your vision might be. Never judge yourself for your level of service or leadership. If you choose to serve on a higher level and feel you can’t quite “get there,” there could be some internal hidden limitations and beliefs that are holding you back. Once you let go of those you can move forward.
I remember as a little girl hearing the leader’s call to action in the Israeli army. It is “follow me.” I knew from an early age that one day it would be me calling it out. I heard the calling, I followed my heart and chose to become a leader; if you choose I know you can, too!
Dr. Karen Jacobson is a High Performance Strategist, Speaker and Author, showing you how to stay at the top of your game, breakthrough hidden limitations to Unlock Your Ultimate Potential!