I used to think of leadership simply as something that one aspired to professionally. My thoughts on it changed when I read author and business speaker John Maxwell say “Leadership is influence, nothing more nothing less.” The quote isn’t near as open ended as it may seem at first when you really think about it.
Whether we accept it or not, we all influence countless people in different ways each and every day. Not always in a monumental way, but we yield influence just the same. If you doubt me consider the following scenarios:
As a parent your influence is vast, not only in your own life, but the lives of your kids. You can even hold influence over the friends of your children. Your points of influence are far reaching. The way in which we live, and the decisions we make, and those we don’t make are all influential in different ways.
Looking at another example, consider your professional life. Whether you’re in a position as being seen as leadership in your organization or not you are in fact still a leader on some level. In countless ways you are having an impact on those you work with.
Let’s dig in and look at a few ways that may be the case. The way you spend your time at work, whether you waste it or make the most of it has influence on those around you. Perhaps it is just the way they see you, either as someone that’s dependable, or a slacker. In either case, your actions were influential in some way weren’t they? Your actions, and the way you carry yourself help other to determine whether being influenced by you will be beneficial to them. I could have touched on countless examples, but for the sake of brevity I’ll stop here. Just know that we all impact others in different ways.
Assuming one accepts that we all, regardless of our title or position in the organizational chart are all influencers, and as such, according to John Maxwell’s definition of leadership – leaders, doesn’t it make sense that the next logical step is to go about developing our leadership skills so that we are not only “leaders”, but more importantly effective leaders who are leaving a positive difference on those people and things we hold influence over. It’s a play on the word leadership, but a worthy distinction I believe.
One doesn’t have to look far to find examples of those in positions of leadership who did an absolutely horrendous job. Fortunately, there are also countless examples, stories, and case studies upon which we can all learn to go beyond being leaders, and become truly effective leaders. Those who can share vision and encourage others to join them in turning that vision into reality. It is through studying this group that we can all learn from, and become better for having done so.
I have always liked the saying, “Lead your Ship.” It is sort of a corny play on the word leadership (say leadership really fast — and think of “lead your ship” … see what I mean?). It reminds me that no matter what my job title is, at any given point in my life I am still a leader, and like any good “ship’s captain” it is up to me to be the best I can be, whether personally or professionally. Do I pull that off all the time? Of course not, but as personal development author Les Brown said so well, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
Unleash the leader inside you,