Create Your Own Leadership Manifesto

by | 6 May 2024

I can remember the exact moment when I was introduced to the idea of leadership manifestos. I was with Dr Brene Brown in Sydney around 10 years ago. It was before she become a global conversationalist sharing research about leadership, courage and shame resilience. To say I hung on every word she said is an understatement. Truth be known, I probably had it wide open! From that day, having a leadership manifesto has been something I recommend to those I work with and I also love facilitating workshops with individuals or groups to support them to develop their own. Read on to see how compelling it can be to create and then live into your own personal manifesto.

I Love Manifestos

I love manifestos. It’s 10 years since I first came across their potential to support leadership development. I am at a workshop with Dr Brene Brown, we developed our own personal manifestos as a part of a personal development program I did and I really liked the way I had to be honest with myself, make a commitment and hold myself accountable through my manifesto. The whole progress over perfection mantra came to life during this time as I knew having a manifesto and living into it wouldn’t always be easy. So accepting that progress is better than perfection was super important to get started and keep on track, even when things didn’t go as planned. I particularly liked the process of declaring my commitment to myself and others through my manifesto.

Where Does the Concept of Manifestos Come From?

The root of the word manifesto is the Latin manifestum which means, “to be clear or to made public.” There are a number of famous manifestos that have been declared through history. These range from the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights to John F Kennedy’s Land a Man on the Moon Speech and Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream Speech. I’m sure you can think of some that are more contemporary and relevant to you. The National Farmer’s Federation’s bold vision for the industry – To exceed $100 billion in farm gate output by 2030 is a manifesto. I recall a moment in time too, when a colleague declared to me she wanted to be the first female Prime Minister of Australia.  And here’s the Rising Strong manifesto that I heard and read when I was in Sydney with Dr Brene Brown.

It moved me greatly. I wonder how you are feeling and what your thoughts are after reading it. I hope you might feel moved or compelled or at least interested in developing your own leadership manifesto.

A Leadership Manifesto

I think every leader needs a personal manifesto (and why not a professional one as well?) – something that let’s those around you know your views, your thoughts, and your beliefs and intentions. When you create your manifesto, you instill a sense of transparency that makes it easy for others to respect, emulate and trust you. Given trust is the basis of all great relationships, the commitment to a manifesto is really valuable. To create your manifesto, start with what you value. Each of us has different core values and these are what we live by and use to make decisions consciously or not. Values are the guide that steers you to embrace your authentic self and helps you live and work towards greatness. I’m often asked how to write a manifesto. I think people are trying to get a hold of a 3 or 10 step process as they want to mechanically go through a process to create a perfect one. There’s no cookie cutter approach here! You create your own manifesto after developing a deeper understanding of your values, your beliefs, your wishes, your drivers and your vision and goals. And your manifesto might be a personal letter to yourself, a series of statements on a poster that you can pin up on a wall or a speech to be read out publicly. You get to decide.

A Quick Start

Here’s my top tip for working up your own leadership manifesto. Take your thinking out into a free space where you can think, draw or write without limiting your beliefs of what’s possible. Tap into what drives you, how you would like to live and lead, how you can realise your own potential and that of others and how you can create impact for yourself and in doing so have this ripple out to the good of others. Here’s my top tip, once you have done your thinking, made some notes and really feel you are read to develop your manifesto, create some “I will…..” statements. Here are some that I have seen others use.

I will commit to being an authentic person.

When you commit to being genuine as a leader, you embrace all parts of who you are – the good, the bad, the weak, the strong, the gaps and the greatness. You commit to acknowledging and leveraging the sum of all your parts. If you can be genuine, you will win hearts and minds. Exceptional leaders lead with heart. I have a fortnightly Enews all about this – if this is of interest you can sign up here.

I will take responsibility for the way I lead.

This is about ‘leading above the line’. Commit to being fully responsible for your leadership actions. Don’t blame others or make excuses for things that don’t go your way. Hold yourself accountable for whatever you do. Stay above the line’ wherever you can.

I will communicate clearly and in a way that conveys what I mean to say.

The words you speak and the way you communicate will always matter. Every time you say something it provides a reflection on who you are, what you think and what you value. Make sure your heart and mind are saying the same thing. Clear is kind, Unclear is Unkind.

I will serve something bigger than myself.

The greatest rewards come when you give of yourself. It’s about bettering the lives of others, being part of something bigger than yourself, and making a positive difference and impact. It’s about leading others ‘live above the line.’ People want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to be in a situation where they feel that they are doing something for the greater good. Find what it is you want to serve.

I will take ownership of my work and strive to make things better within my sphere of influence.

Leaders inspire accountability through their ability to accept responsibility before they place blame. Again this is about ‘leading above the line’ so it inspires others to do the same. Leaders are role models. And the best leaders serve humanity in a way that lifts everyone around them. Accountability is the measure of a leader’s height.

I will embrace resilience.

Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less than what you would like it to be. Learn to face everything with courage and curiosity. When you do, you will gain the perspective that nothing is off limits and that every opportunity is a platform for future success, because only those who dare to fail greatly, can ever achieve greatly.

I will invest in myself as I invest in others, actually even more.

No leader sets out to be a leader. People set out to live their lives, expressing themselves fully. When that expression is of value, they become leaders. So, the point is not to become a leader but to invest in yourself as a person. To use yourself completely – all your skills, strengths, gifts and talents-in order to make your vision manifest. You should never hold back. You, should become the person you are meant to be, and to enjoy the process of becoming. Truly authentic leaders make ongoing commitments with themselves to invest in their own growth as a leader and also in supporting the growth of those around them. This is what one of the key elements of our leadership model is “Grow Self.”

I will remember there is always free choice.

You may not always be able to change or choose your situation, but you will always be able to choose who you are going to be in the situation. Choose the character and the values that lead you to embrace your greatness. Always remember to respond not react.

I will dedicate myself to my calling.

As leaders we are made not born! We are made through awareness, hard work, development and commitment. That’s a price you pay as you strive to live up to your potential and your calling. You’ll have to pay to achieve your greatness, and not everyone lives up to their calling. But if you know what’s important to you, and if you know that what you do matters, you will put your best into what you do and how you do it. To live up to your calling is to tap into your greatness, embrace it, be courageous and show up each and every time!

A Final Note – Lead From Within: Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It’s precisely that simple, and it’s also that complicated. Leadership is a choice and a privilege; learn to embrace the greatness it can bestow upon you. Always remember who you are is how you lead!

Over to You

I hope this post has inspired and motivated you to see the value and role of a leadership manifesto for you. And I hope you commit to writing up your own “I will…..” statements. Good luck. And please feel free to reach out to me here if you think I can help in any way.

Until next time!

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About the Author

Jo Eady

Jo Eady

I’m a leadership specialist, a human centred facilitator and a modern day storyteller. I live in Victoria, Australia. For the past two decades I’ve developed and facilitated a range of leadership initiatives, strategies and programs and have coached many across Australia’s agricultural and rural sectors. I love being a change agent and my key motto right now is courage over comfort. I support others to develop their own leadership essence and shine from the inside out.