Monthly Archives: September 2012

Redefining Leadership: You ARE a Leader

Some people define leadership by a title. Others define a leader by the amount of responsibility or authority one has, or by how many people a person oversees. Sometimes, a leader has a combination of all of those.

I want to reframe the idea of what it means to be a leader, to help people understand that the idea of leadership isn’t just some lofty goal or state of being reserved for presidents, CEOs, and the rich.

No matter who you are, or what you do, or how much wealth or material possessions you have (or don’t), you have the ability to become a leader in your own life – and profoundly change it, and the lives of those around you, for the better.

While standards like title, responsibility, authority, financial standing or occupation can be universal measures to establish leaders, being a leader can have a much more subtle, but no less powerful, definition.

A leader is someone who has influence.

The key word in that sentence is influence – not power, not wealth, not status, not looks. Influence can equal leadership, for good or for bad. Of course, good leadership is what we’re striving for, and it boils down to positively influencing the situation.

Now, with a definition like that, who can be a leader? Anyone – even if they don’t have a title, occupation or demeanor that would necessarily imply it.

Take look at any group of kindergartners on the playground. Not one of those little stinkers has a title, but there is definitely someone in charge, influencing what is going on. While CEOs are certainly considered leaders, receptionists can be, too. Principals are definite leaders, but custodians can just as easily demonstrate leadership qualities in their jobs.

While the “traditional” view of leadership usually assigns most of it at the top of an organization or department (in theory, that is!), the best performing entities – whether they’re companies, clubs or sports teams – have members who demonstrate leadership at every level. These “leaders without the title” have latched on to the profound reality that because they have influence, they lead.

You have influence. Therefore, YOU ARE A LEADER. Use your influence to positively impact what is going on around you.  Lead well.