Everyone’s a leader. No, really!
We often assign the term to people who are in recognized positions of power and authority, but that weakens the term.
If someone is going along with you on any kind of journey, you’re a leader. You are in a situation which you need to exercise some kind of influence over others who are with you on that journey.
You should care about this distinction, because it changes your mindset. Rather than feeling like a victim of those around you, you start looking at the responsibility you have to help others make the best choices.
Here’s a trivial example: The three of us are figuring out where to go for dinner. Normally, I’m not too worried about it, and don’t strongly care WHERE we go. My attitude can be frustrating to the others, who would like to make a decision that we can all feel satisfied with. To be honest, I want that too, so saying “I don’t care” is not very helpful.
When I think about myself as a responsible person in this discussion, though, I realize that part of the decision is feeling comfortable with HOW we made it. And when there’s an imbalance of participation, we may not feel satisfied with HOW the discussion went. So a better response from me would be to mention the few preferences that I have, then helpfully lead the group into a decision.
That’s a lot of thinking for a little discussion that might take 60 seconds, right? Well, yes. But it’s more about the ATTITUDE that I adopt in my interactions with others. With the right attitude, I won’t have to carefully think through what I do, it will just come naturally.
Throughout your life, there’s going to be myriad situations where you will lead yourself and others to make progress. Adopting the attitude of a gentle servant leader will give you better results, and everyone will be happier.
And don’t forget that everyone’s also a follower. Even those people we hold up as examples of great leadership need to know how to follow.
That’s what makes society work.
by Carl Dierschow