The United States of America did not win its independence from England by only being independent, courageous or rebellious. Our young founding fathers would’ve lost it all if it weren’t for the wisdom and diplomacy of one man, their mentor, Benjamin Franklin. Franklin was 70 years old when he mentored Jefferson, Washington, Adams and others that were 40 years younger while crafting the Declaration of Independence. He was nearly 80 when he traveled to Paris and enrolled King Louis XVI of France to fight and ultimately defeat England in America. The system of governance that Franklin envisioned for America is not based on independence, but inter-dependence. A system of checks and balances is a system of accountability, not conflict. Accountability is what makes a great leader.
Why the history lesson? The world needs more leaders and less conflict.
Leadership is not attained through independent thought or actions alone. Leadership is the result of community, and community is a system of accountabilities. To practice leadership, practice being accountable to others, practice asking others to be accountable too.
On the other hand, conflict is the illusion that we are independent and that one can gain when the other loses. The compensation “not losing again” is authority. Authority is not leadership. It opposes leadership. It constrains leadership in others and causes more fear of losing and thus more conflict. The answer to the cycle of conflict is not isolation. It is mutual accountability. It is Community. It is Leadership.
To radically increase your personal sense of leadership right now, give up your sense of independence. Give up feeling alone. Notice who you depend on and who depends on you. You are not independent. You are an essential part of a much greater whole and who you are is a collection of who depends on you. You are the center of your community.
To increase leadership in your family, organization or community, create systems of accountabilities that reduce fear and the illusion of independence. Replace authority with accountabilities. Encourage healthy conflict as a call for leaders and accountabilities.
Consider that who you are is measured by who you are accountable to… you are nothing more and nothing less.