“Leadership recognised is leadership created.”
-- Drew Dudley
Too often the idea of a ‘Leadership’ is confused with authority, with rank, and with being amongst the elite. So let’s set the record straight, right here right now. Leadership is not something you gain or that can be given to you. Leadership is earned by the actions you make, the connections you create, and the passions you inspire in others.
Great leaders help people change for the better.
Read that again. Great leaders help people change for the better. Did you notice there is no scale or volume mentioned? No minimum number of people, no minimum scope of change, and no limit to where this change needs to take place. Great leaders aren’t limited to existing only within the workplace or politics. You don’t have to be leading a battalion of soldiers, or be revolutionizing our civil liberties to possess leadership.
What it does mean is that great leaders help accomplish change. The very word ‘lead’ implies the movement from one point to another, but it also implies a relationship between people; for someone to be leading there must be others choosing to follow. We’re talking leadership here, not dictatorship.
Great leaders connect the dots between point A and point B; they take the actions, generate the environments and make the decisions that create the opportunities and inspiration for the people around them to transform their lives. But to be a great leader this transformation must also be beneficial. Point B can’t just be in any old direction, it must take people forward in some way.
When we look at it like this, we realise that anyone in our lives can be a leader, and acts of leadership can be seen all around us every day. Better yet, we can realise that we ourselves can be great leaders, changing the people we care about for the better.
Here are five acts of leadership you can put into practise every day, no matter whether you are at work, chilling with your family, out with friends, or maybe even running for Prime Minister.
Great leaders aren’t cocky and arrogant. They don’t judge others or think they are better than anyone else. They treat everybody with respect and courtesy. Humble people don’t have to be passive, submissive or insecure; they just don’t feel the need to boast about themselves. Instead, let your actions speak for your ideals.
With leadership comes the duty of care to those around you. If you say you are going to help somebody, stick to your word. It’s also about being honest with people not just in what you say and do, but who you are. Leaders who are transparent and forthcoming, even if they aren’t perfect, will earn more people’s respect by walking their talk.
The ability to teach and mentor those around you, instead of simply telling them what to do or doing it for them, is an essential trait of effective leaders. Remember a great leader doesn’t just change the lives of others; they change them for the better. So the most important thing you can do is teach people how to think and ask the right questions.
In fact don’t just listen to the views and opinions of others, encourage them to share with you. Try not to control every conversation, listen and observe not only what is being said, but also the emotions, motives, needs and goals of the person speaking. This kind of listening builds trust and respect.
People are far more likely to show courage themselves if they see you doing the same. Showing courage also means showing vulnerability. It’s about recognizing and sharing what scares you and standing up in the face of that fear. Maybe it’s facing a fear of failure, but still having the courage to try something new. Or maybe it’s just the courage to keep showing up even when things are hard and giving up or staying away would be easier. That kind of courage is contagious.
You are just as likely to be the agent of positive change for those around you as any CEO or politician. You might be surprised by the effect you’ve already had on those around you. So embrace this and let your actions inspire a change for the better in others.