Did you know that we’re all leaders…and we’re all followers? Every day we move through these roles seamlessly. Think about your role in your family, your work, your volunteer organizations, your community. You’ll quickly see that sometimes you’re leading and other times your following.
Sociologists tell us that even the most introverted individual will influence ten thousand other people during his or her lifetime. WOW!! This amazing statistic helps us to realize that all of us are leading in some areas, while in other areas we are being led. No one is excluded from being a leader or a follower.
Realizing your potential as a leader is your responsibility.
I often have conversations with individuals who say “I want to be a leader. Can you help me?”. This question always makes me smile and I say “You’re already a leader. You're influencing people every day. What you want is to be a more effective, more impactful leader. That, I can absolutely help you with.”
The prominent leader of any group is quite easy to discover. Just observe the people as they gather. If an issue is to be decided, who is the person whose opinion seems most valuable? Who is the one others watch the most when the issue is being discussed? Who is the one with whom people quickly agree? Most importantly, who is the one the others follow? Answers to these questions will help you determine who the real leader is in your group.
So, what can you do to maximize your potential as a leader…to be that person whose opinion is valuable, who is listened to, who is agreed with, and who others want to follow? There are three things you can start doing today to build your leadership persona.
First, be naturally curious and a great listener.
Leaders have great ideas and opinions because they are naturally curious and they use that curiosity to build their knowledge, experience, and world view. If you’re always trying to shout above the crowd to be heard and a leader, you’ll soon learn that everyone is leaving you and you’re shouting from the mountain tops alone.
Next, ask great questions.
This comes from being naturally curious, but asking incredible questions is a key to learning and leading. Even if you may already know the answer to the question, ask anyway. The insight you gain into the mindset, focus, and attention of those you’re leading can be even more valuable than the answers you receive.
Then, be confident and courageous.
People look to leaders who are confident in themselves, in the decisions that are being made, and courageous to risk for the future. Wishy-washy leaders aren’t leaders. Leadership requires risk and when you step out into the unknown, it’s important to acknowledge you don’t have all the answers, but you and those you’re leading are in this together.
Connection builds courage…and ultimate we lead only when we are journeying with others.
Are you a leader? The answer is yes. Are you maximizing your potential as a leader? That is a different question and a daily commitment to pursue.
Live. Love. Lead. Leave a Legacy!