Is leadership a calling for the few or all?
“Leadership” is a word that has many meanings. Most people picture a leader as someone who holds a formal title in a corporation, organization, government, church, educational or military setting. Sure, these people are leaders and can be powerful influences in our lives. But being a leader is so much more. Leadership goes far beyond the context of these titles.
But the truth is, leadership occurs everywhere. Where there is life, there is leadership. Everyone is a leader. That’s because leadership is really a mindset much more than a title. In fact, a title does not guarantee true leadership even though those with powerful titles often have an enormous impact on the world (regardless of whether the impact is positive or negative).
At the heart of leadership is two dynamics – impact and responsibility.
Impact is the effect that we have on others – our families, communities, the environment, and the world. We are constantly impacting others whether we realize it or not, just as when a pebble is dropped into a peaceful pool of water. When people are striving toward empowering others and creating win-win scenarios that still accomplish the desired goal, they are engaging in positive leadership. When people are only trying to achieve their own objectives, they are engaging in negative or destructive leadership.
Responsibility is a leader’s willingness to notice the impact they have and to respond in a way that is conscientious and appropriate. Even though everyone is responsible for their impact, not everyone takes responsibility for it. People commonly deny responsibility by blaming others. It is much easier to deny or blame than it is to take responsibility. But in the long run, blaming others is more difficult than taking responsibility. Because when you blame others, you give up your control. A good leader makes conscientious and appropriate responses to the world around them; they do not deny mistakes – or blame others.
What Is Leadership Impact?
Whether you see yourself as a leader or not, you are having an impact on the world. Your every breath, movement, word, interaction, and every thought have an impact on something or someone else.
Everything we do has varying degrees of impact. Sometimes the impact is seemingly small and goes unnoticed. Much like an employee who is committed to getting the work done, taking the time to tell a child a story, throwing your litter out the car window, or volunteering your time at a senior citizen home - all these actions have an impact.
Sometimes impact is extreme, such as the loss of a loved one, a dispute with your business partner, two countries waging war, or a company-wide layoff.
Regardless of your leadership role, you have a responsibility to notice your impact, and then to adjust your leadership style and influence as needed. This is the leadership role that we are all called to accept. The next time you do anything – speak with your neighbor, voice an opinion, make a purchase, or take a breath – notice your impact on the world around you. Notice your influence or effect; notice the force of your ideas; and notice the impression you leave on others. Notice your leadership impact.
Be Brave, Be True, Be You
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