Leadership is often considered the sole domain of the business world, sports arena and military fields. But there are many other situations in which leadership crops up, and I believe leadership is an every-life experience – we all get a chance to experience leadership at some point and in some way in our lives, even if we don’t recognise it at the time.
Your leadership experiences may be in traditional leadership situations such as being a team leader, supervisor or department head at your work. Or perhaps it’s something from your personal life – as a parent or step-parent or older family member (aunt, uncle). Or as a leader in a community or volunteer organisation or situation, or at your church or book club.
Or perhaps you are a thought leader on a topic you are passionate and knowledgeable about.
Whatever kind of leader you are, have been or will be, in whatever situation, here are 6 simple truths about leadership.
- Leadership reveals you. When you lead something, or someone, who you are becomes visible. We see you. Even if you aren’t sure what we’re seeing, or you wish we were seeing something else, who you are and what you stand for becomes noticeable.
- The chance to lead is an opportunity to be cherished. You may only experience true leadership a few times in your life, so make the most of those opportunities when they come around.
- Being a leader isn’t about being the boss, or bossing people around. It isn’t about exerting your will over others, or having your way prevail at the expense of everybody else’s. It isn’t about giving orders. It isn’t about being the loudest, or only, voice. People who don’t know what real leadership is, who are ‘faking it til they make it’, misguidedly use these poor facsimiles of leadership behaviour as their rulebook of how a leader acts. Real leaders never have to do any of those things.
- One of the most economical and to-the-point definitions of leadership I ever heard is this: A real leader is someone others will follow into battle.If you can excuse the decidedly military nature of this definition, the essence is actually quite beautiful. A real leader is someone others are prepared to take risks for (even the ultimate risk – putting their life in the others hands). A real leader inspires action, and behaviour change, in others. A real leader makes decisions, sometimes very tough ones, and stands by them, and acts on them. A real leader is someone others believe in – in their judgement, in their decisions, their information/data/intel, their intentions, and their actions.
- What you believe about yourself as a leader becomes reality. Confidence is inspiring, and contagious. This isn’t ‘fake it til you make it’, but an understanding that your capability as a leader will grow your confidence as a leader.
- Leadership is not about or assigned on the basis of gender, or age, or sexual orientation, or ethnicity, or skin colour, or height, hair colour, or any other demographic quality. Anyone can be a leader. You can be a leader.