What kind of leadership qualities first come to mind? More often than not, we associate leadership with a title or public recognition. If you have a defined position such as king, queen, president, first lady, senator, CEO, CFO, COO, Chairman, provost, director, manager, minister etc. you are automatically recognized as a leader. Likewise, if you are publicly affirmed as a business mogul, award winning actress, world re-known musician/singer –or the like- you are immediately thought of as a leader. Leaders are usually identified as “take charge” individuals so typically, they gain recognition within the local community, nation or even the world. As a result, we often think that we ourselves are not leaders because we don’t have a title or haven’t gained widespread fame, popularity or recognition.
But, leadership goes well beyond the titles we hold, public popularity, or personal fame. We all can and should be leaders in our own space and scope of responsibility. There are many traits that define leadership and most really have nothing to do with title, position or fame. Some of our day to day actions or personal beliefs which drive our conduct result in leadership. For example; If we are operating in confidence, taking initiative, being accountable for our actions and choices, staying flexible and adapting as the circumstance requires, willingly empowering others, respectfully communicating with everyone with whom we interact; then we are functioning as a leader does. Yet, we often don’t recognize within ourselves that we are taking these steps and so we don’t (self) acknowledge our importance – our leadership contribution.
Leadership Qualities All People With Everyday Power Have
When we are working in the trenches, supporting someone else’s rise to prominence we hardly feel like a leader. And, if we don’t have access to large groups of followers whom we can sway with our words or activity, we may think we are insignificant. Or, as we share our possessions, time and thoughts we may do it routinely (in a matter-of-fact manner) without realizing that what we do amounts to an act of leadership.
Sometimes leading means, willingly, walking a step behind.
No one becomes successful, gain widespread demand or prominence because they knew every step to take or did it all on their own. There is generally someone or a few people working in the shadows, coaching and guiding them, sharing and providing information, carrying out the day to day tasks and in effect taking on what we like to call the grunt work which must be done to achieve and maintain success. It takes a special person to first realize that where they can best serve is in someone else’s shadow. It takes vision, courage, strength, and a “can do” attitude – all of which are characteristic of leadership – to look at the situation and accept that while you may not possess the gift to be the person in front, your contributions and work are critical to the goals attained.
Leaders have the ability to sway our thoughts or beliefs.
Leaders are decision-makers and the choices they make impact the direction and future of others. But, influence on others is not simply left to public figures or heads of organizations and large enterprises. The child who refuses to participate in mocking, belittling or bullying another is as great a leader as any king or queen. The father who works two jobs to pay for musical instruments; and regardless of how many hours he works, finds the time to play at least one jam session with those children each week is a great leader. For, although these are not grand gestures, those who are the recipients of the benefits that come to fruition, are likely to be influenced so that they themselves behave or react in the same commendable manner.
Matter-of-fact service = Leadership.
From day to day, we run into situations that allow us to perform random acts of kindness. These opportunities are more than a chance to be of service or do a good turn – these are opportunities for leadership. When we lead, we provide support for others and this can be as simple as giving up your seat on the train to a senior citizen or a mother and her child (even though you’ve had a long and tiring day). Leaders encourage and instill confidence in others. And, this does not have to be done through a long public speech to a large crowd. It doesn’t take handing out awards or prizes to be of service or build esteem in others. This can be accomplished by always greeting all who cross your path with a warm smile and courteous, “hello!’ – regardless of their position. This simple daily acknowledgement whether it is to the security staff, the janitorial staff, the administrative staff, the technical and professional staff or the company CEO is a show of support and thankfulness that builds connections and promotes an environment in which teamwork will flourish.
So, as much as we give cheer and applause to publicly recognized leaders, let us give a standing ovation to those who daily set a standard that enhances the human experience as they:
- willingly walk a step behind so someone else can shine
- proactively take actions that demand positive responses and reactions from others
- as well as lay a foundation for ongoing support by always being of service to others through routinely performing good deeds
For, we must remember that the true success of a leader is in sharing their accomplishments and helping others to also achieve!