Everyone is a Leader (or can be)
One thing I want to make sure we understand is that just about everyone is already a leader ,or can be in some role or circumstance. If we aren’t a leader in any capacity yet, there are times where it would be natural to step into a leadership role.
In our last blog entry, we went over the 3 key elements of leadership. These elements are: Influence, Initiative, and Responsibility. Think about your day or your week and consider when are you initiating, influencing, and being responsible for the result. Times when you are doing these things, you are already leading. Let’s look at a few examples of circumstances when we might already be leaders:
If we are a parent, we are likely a leader of our kids at some level. If we truly consider parenting as a type of leadership, it might change the way we parent. If we used our influence as parents and intentionally worked to pass on our values and character qualities, we would be leader-parents. This would be a sharp contrast to primarily a punishing style of parenting, or a hands off style of parenting where we let our kids decide everything on their own.
The light bulb went on for me recently when I finally got the difference between being an individual in my marriage and a leader in my marriage. If we are influencing our spouse and initiating to create the type of relationship that we both (our spouse and us) want, we are leading in our marriage.
The rest of us are just along for the ride hoping it works out.
One of the biggest business segments out there is in helping people to lead themselves. We call this industry self-help, how-to, or personal development. When we boil it down, this industry is helping people to lead themselves to produce a certain outcome: lose weight, get out of debt, get organized, etc. If we compare these to the 3 key elements of leadership, we will find that, with help, we are influencing, initiating, and owning a particular outcome – with ourself (at least when we achieve our goal).
If we are good at managing our weight, our money, or our organization, among other things, we are a self-leader – at least in this area.
We often believe we are not a leader because we have misconceptions about the nature of leadership. We believe that leadership is telling people what to do. We look at the person in the front of the room giving instructions as a leader. This is one style of leadership, but there are many other styles of leadership as well.
Leading From the Front
Most of us recognize leadership when the style is lead from the front. There are sub-styles when leading from the front as well. For example, we can lead by telling people what to do or influencing others to want the same goal we have.
If we’re asking the question, “What if I’m not a leader?” chances are that we aren’t confused thinking we’re not leadership material all the while directing activity from the front of the room.
Leading From Behind
It is possible, however, that we are legitimately leading in a lead from behind style, and we’re not recognizing it. If we examine, again, the 3 essential keys of leadership, we might notice that nowhere in this list does it say we have to be the identifiable leader in the front.
We can lead from behind by filling in the gaps, proving support, and by seeing what needs to be done and making sure it gets done. If we are taking initiative, influencing people, and taking on ownership of the end result, we are leading. It doesn’t matter if we’re doing this quietly behind the scenes or if we’re on stage in the front.
When we step into our calling beyond a career, we will need to lead in some capacity and in some style. We don’t need to fear that we don’t have what it takes. There is a leadership role and style that will feel natural. Once we experience leadership of some type, this becomes a reference experience for us. Then it becomes easier to fill other leadership roles and expand our use of different leadership styles.
Now it’s your turn to share. What is important enough for you to consider taking initiative, influencing, and owning a particular outcome or result? In other words, what makes you want to be a leader?