For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead. –Thomas Jefferson
One definition of declaration is “a formal or explicit statement or announcement.” Much of our life as leaders is spent in elevator speeches, email blasts, one on one’s, 10/10’s, stand-up’s, or whatever company speak is familiar in our organizational culture. Very little time is spent on articulating what is true for us as leaders and yet those are the things that drive our decision making whether we declare them or not.
In honor of our Nation’s Independence Day, I have created a Declaration of Leadership template below, followed by some questions for reflection. Here we go …
First, as the creators of the of the Declaration of Independence did, write your list of grievances.
This is your space to write what is bothering you about the current state of your organization.
Now it is time to move forward and shift your energy from one of resistance and frustration with what is not working to one of momentum and alignment with what is working. The shift is internal first and then the momentum will follow …
Second, please fill in the blanks:
I hold these truths to be self-evident in my leadership … In other words what will you feel and what will others see in you every day that does not need to be explained because it is obvious in your actions and words:
To live these truths, I will:
Third, deepen your declaration by answering these reflection questions:
- If your document was a collective effort, and needed to reflect the truths of your team, your boss, your peers, what would need to change?
- If you were not recognized as the author of your declaration, and someone else took credit for your words, how would it change how you behave?
- If you imagine sharing this declaration with anyone, how does that feel? Exciting, scary, silly etc. Use your reflections to edit to your declaration as needed.
The point is, declaring something means you own it and step into it, but it doesn’t mean it hasn’t been there all along. Whether you acknowledge your truths or not, they are guiding you. The best leaders in the world, align with them, sometimes daily, sometimes hourly, sometimes one word or one handshake at a time. Declarations are active commitments that require heart and help you stay the course in times of adversity. If you don’t make them, it is much easier to lose your way as a leader. Whether it is quietly, or you shout it from the roof tops, many will feel your alignment in unforeseen ways.
Finally, Sign outside the lines …
Declarations change history, so before you sign this, sit with it for a few days. Make sure you deeply align with your declaration, even if it may anger the king, so to speak.
When you are ready, SIGN BIG like John Hancock.