We tend to look upwards for leaders, don’t we? I mean, that’s where they, at the top of organisations, isn’t it? Heading up companies, schools, political parties, charities, councils, the NHS, the CBI – well, the government and the country (hello, ma’am).
But actually, I think leaders are all around us. They are everywhere, and we need them to be.
You see, I have always seen leadership as fluid rather than fixed. It may be fixed in corporate hierarchies and enshrined in titles and the trappings of status but if you’ve worked in a large organisation you know that leadership doesn’t just exist at the top (if it exists at the top at all). At all levels there are people who take it upon themselves to step forward and do what is necessary for the common good or to achieve the objective.
It’s also a feature of high-performing teams that the leadership is passed between members as the situation demands, so that the most appropriate and skilled person is leading in each situation the team faces.
And even if you are ‘following’ you can exercise leadership by staying engaged and ready to step up when required and doing all you can to advance the cause and create the best environment for everyone.
I love how Brene Brown defines leadership in her latest book, “Dare to Lead”. She says
“I define a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential”
(She goes on to say that we need leaders who are self-aware enough to lead from their hearts rather than involved leaders who lead from hurt and fear. Amen to that too.)
We can all see that potential and take action to develop that. As friends, as parents, as work colleagues, as citizens. Every day, in every minute.
You are probably already being a leader at times, without realising it. So look to be aware and do it more often, consciously and with heart.
So stop waiting for a leader to come along and tell you what to do. And stop looking up for a leader too, you don’t need to.
You just need to look in the mirror. And act.
Then we will have leaders everywhere.
We need you to be one of them.
Picture by William Murphy under CC BY-SA 2.0