On how to become a Great Leader!


By Carlos Gomez

While most have only been discussing whether leaders are born or made, I choose to take action and become one.

I chose to act on what I believe leadership is about. I believe what really matters is to know how we can develop ourselves to become not only a leader but a GREAT LEADER.

GREAT LEADERS stand out because they built on GREATNESS as their core value. And as such, they are authentic, genuine and are able to make real difference!

I have dedicated the last 7 years to research, learn and understand how one can become a truly great leader. My drive has been the belief that only a handful of GREAT LEADERS is needed to change the world as we know it to the world that we desire. It will be these GREAT LEADERS who will be able to reduce the suffering of human kind.

I read many books, hundreds of blog entries and articles, watched numerous videos and attended more conferences; Many of these were delivered by the most acknowledged scholars and university professors and many others by self-made leadership gurus. It strikes me as odd that there is vast difference in opinions and attitude on both sides on what makes a leader great. So, to give an answer to how one can become a Great Leader is not easy by far. However, as I believe that life is the best teacher, I will answer through the lessons I learned in real life from real people and through a long career in various fields.

On the first-floor of the British Library, in a quiet corner of The Business Centre room, a place where you can access almost any business, entrepreneurship and leadership book, journal, article or magazine ever published around the world, I found myself reading and learning about two extraordinary concepts, which, seem to be the conversion point of most of the great leaders: GREATNESS and THE POWER OF CHOICE. These two concepts literally changed the way I think, communicate and act.

Let me start by Greatness. The essential foundation of greatness is wisdom. I discovered that great leaders have the distinctive quality to perceive the right thing to do, the burning desire that allows them to do the right thing only! and they are capable and strong enough to do the right thing. Great Leaders have the wisdom to recognise the best ends to aim at and the best means for reaching those ends.

As for most of us, my personality is greatly influence by the person closest to me in my early years, my mother. She always encouraged me to `THINK BIG` and never be afraid of dreaming big. I could not help immersing myself into the study of the science of being great, which immediately became an obsession when I realized GREATNESS was in EVERY person and we could grow in any direction we want and there does not appear to be any limit to the possibilities of personal growth! I was excited and terrified by this conception.

`Be not afraid of greatness` Shakespeare once wrote. Well, I was certainly feeling afraid of greatness at first since during those days I was in my lowest stage personally and professionally. The more I learned about this topic, the more I felt that I could find greatness in myself also. It seemed to me that the process I was going through happened to many others and this helped them all to find the values they were looking for.

Then, however, just as it always happens when one is going through a change in mind-set, I started having doubts. My self-talk went like… “Who am I to be thinking about greatness?…” The willingness to find my greatness and my self-talk were pulling me in different directions and it was a lot for me to take it all at once.
Few minutes later I came back to find the second concept, an almost “undisclosed” concept that would help me to discover a whole new way of thinking and would take me straight away into action, it was the Power of Choice.

It is true that we cannot always choose the things around us but we can ALWAYS choose how we want to respond to the things around us.

At that moment I understood how I was reacting to life. I realised I was being controlled by circumstances; I believed that my destiny was decided by external factors. I was shocked to realise I was the child of chance and circumstance and the slave of fear.

Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Ghandi, Charles de Gaulle and many others knew that the choices they had in life were always about themselves (and their reactions) and never about the external factors around them. (Big lesson!)

Understanding these two concepts, Greatness and Power of Choice triggered my real conversion. That day in the library, I committed myself to train and develop myself to the highest potential I could possibly achieve and accept no limits!

Strangely, much as these concepts are fundamental to developing a strong leadership mind-set, which in turn is key for great leaders, traditional literature rarely refers to it; most do not even take mention of these concepts.
Greatness in leadership is possible to most of us who are committed to make significant changes to humanity.

We can and we indeed must aspire to that ideal! As John Adair wrote in his book Inspiring Leadership `…it is the only kind of leadership that will really work over a long period of time among free and equal people.`

Aim to be a great leader at home, in your school, university or in the office.

Greatness in your current position or role is what will help to raise the entire human race to a higher level.


Working with purpose (dedicated to the members of the GUnited in Kenya)

By Carlos Gomez

It was 1992 when I first became interested in leadership.
I was in my first year at university when I had this dream of being a successful CEO one day.
Looking back from there, I remember that I used to be a leader in many different activities at primary school, however, something changed my life and as a result I lost confidence and became an average, insecure follower.
My interest in leadership followed me through university; however, I could never have my confidence back until later in my life.
After graduating from university, I started off my professional career and moving from one position to better one. Just as everyone else, at times I felt successful and at others, a failure. And even though I could always recover from downturns and kept a steady level of happiness, I constantly had the feeling that something was missing from my life.
Many days, particularly Mondays, I felt more and more dragged down as I was getting close to my office. I remember walking to my cubicle, sighing the Monday morning sigh to my colleagues and dropping my documents with a thud that, to me, sounded like prison cell doors closing behind me. Simply, I was not doing what I really wanted to do.
Although, I was the leader; I had the job `title` and even good material things in my life, still, I could not find the real purpose in what I was doing.
I spent few years like that… looking for a purpose… I changed career, I changed team, I changed company, I changed position and I even changed city. I looked everywhere OUT there… still I could not find purpose. It was not until I read a book that opened my eyes and taught me I should start looking into myself.
I realised then that it is about finding purpose in what you do every moment. There and then I stopped trying to find meaning desperately and did a quiet, more thoughtful search instead. The meaning and purpose I was seeking came when I least expected it, when I had no team, no title, no position, when I had no job.
Finding my purpose is now a continuously evolving journey that has no final destination. And I only had to change my attitude and mind set to realise that. I only shifted my focus from myself to something higher than me. At that point, I truly understood what leadership was all about. I realised I was learning how to lead myself first. (First lesson of Authentic Leadership).
I believe what you do at GUnited is just that. You are selflessly serving others. You might not be able to change Kenya as a whole but you are certainly changing Kenya for the child you are helping. If you want to find purpose in your day-to-day work, you can start right now with the people you are interacting with. Isn`t it what we all should be doing?