Change Whisperer – Gail Severini, Symphini Change Management Inc.

Longing for the endless immensity of great leadership
February 14, 2013, 4:40 pm
Filed under: - Leadership, - Personal change, - Personal Reflections | Tags: ,

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”―Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Businesspeople Playing in the OceanIsn’t that what great leadership does—teach us to long for the endless immensity of the future?

That is not nearly as easy as it sounds. It is about more than the typical prescription for “vision.”

I long for strategic leaders who have oceans of imagination, energy, momentum, and resolve.

You don’t see it so much as you feel it, and are swept in with it. It aligns with your values and calls your best self forward.

It reminds you of what is possible—what you are capable of.

This is not about charisma, with its shallow veneer and gloss of likeability. It is about something much deeper—personal commitment.

Great leadership inspires words such as “legacy,” “visionary,” “influencer,” and “exemplar.” Most leaders have heard this calling, even if it has been reduced to a whisper.

And, yes, before all the scholars and trainers get agitated, there are excellent leadership techniques, skills, and capabilities. But those will only empower the underlying motivations.

Real leadership is about who you are, what you stand for, and what you dream about

Most of us are capable of drawing on this, but we get sidetracked.

We become disappointed, frustrated, and disillusioned. We sell our souls for job security, bonus, and promotions. We fear change and what it might mean for us. We lose our capacity to dare.

There is a way back.

The heart of a great leader keeps beating on the dream of making a difference.

We are waiting for you.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it

Are you also longing for leadership? Send this post to your leaders as encouragement and a vote of confidence. Post it in the cafeteria or in the gym, “share” it, “re-tweet” it—get the message out there. Make your own voice heard. Talk to your leadership; ask them what inspires them and what their greatest hopes are for the organization, for your community, for the economy. Ask how you can support them.

Are you a leader who has lost the spark? What first intrigued you? What did you think you might be able to do? What would you do if you had nothing to lose? What is the future that you want to live into? Please, re-discover the leader in you.

Are you an emerging leader? Yes, you are. Walk tall. Get up when you stumble. Be bold.

Are you a follower? Don’t wait. There is a leader in you. Be a voice of hope and determination. Lead discussions on future possibilities.

Above all, look to the future.


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5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

That may just be the best article on leadership
I’ve read in the past 12 months. Thank you!

Comment by Michael Darmody

Thanks so much Michael. I am delighted that it resonated with you. Hope you are well. Gail

Comment by Gail Severini


Thanks so much; this really is helpful for me but mostly for me to use to communicate what leadership is to my students. I am grateful.

Comment by Rosa-Fay Milnar

I am delighted Rosa-Fay. I am likewise very appreciative of your insights in the Organizational Change Practitioners Group on LinkedIn!

Comment by Gail Severini

[…] Severini at the Change Whisperer shares her cry for more authentic, inspired leadership in  Longing for the Endless Immensity of Great Leadership. “Real leadership is about who you are, what you stand for, and what you dream […]

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