Leadership touches on so many other topics that it’s almost unlimited. More and more I’ve come to see that success, whether in business, the community, or your personal life, is a function of leadership, or some aspect of leadership.
And, of course, the opposite is true as well, that failure often seems to be a function of lack of leadership.
Unleashed: You need to unleash the leader within. I believe that we all have lots of leadership ability, locked deep inside, just waiting to be unleashed. For most of us, our capacity to improve our leadership ability is also virtually unlimited.
Leadership is a lot like athletic ability—some people are born with a lot of athletic ability, and others are born with less (and I was born with a lot less!). It’s the same with leadership ability, but no matter where you are on the leadership ability spectrum, you can learn to improve, just as you can learn to improve your athleticism.
Defined: My definition of leadership is pretty simple: it’s the ability to influence people to do things they might not otherwise do without a leader to guide them. I realize this is a broad definition, but I believe that everyone, no matter what your job title or position, is in a leadership role, because you’re always trying to lead others or yourself.
You’re trying to influence others in your family, or your civic group, or the team on which you serve at work. That, by my definition, is leadership.
Internal vs. External: Even if you’re stuck on a desert island somewhere (well, at least your wireless connection is working!), you’re leading yourself. I mean that you’re trying to have the discipline to figure out what needs to be done, prioritize those things, and then go out and do them. That’s what I call internal leadership. And, in most cases, we can’t be effective at leading others (external leadership) unless we’re effective at leading ourselves.
If you accept this definition, then you’ll understand why I like to say, “Leadership is EVERYONE’S business.” So, one thing to keep in mind is that when I talk of leadership, it’s not geared only to those who are in official leadership positions.
Aspects of Leadership: As I said, there are a lot of aspects to leadership: public speaking, emotional intelligence, working on a team, customer service, selling your ideas (or products) to others—the list goes on and on!
Another important part of leadership is that we must take responsibility for what we do, including making the necessary changes to improve our leadership. Change is never easy, and the changes we make along the way won’t be easy. Managing change, now that I think of it, is another element of leadership.
Questions: What aspect of leadership do you need to work on? How might lack of improvement in that area be holding you back? What steps must you take to make improvements?