Not everyone can be the “leader”, as most commonly defined in 21st century popular culture. But everyone can develop their leadership qualities and use the influence they have in a positive way. Some are big and bad; others are small and trivial. Researchers have analyzed what truths to tell and which not.
The answer, of course, is yes and no (what do you think of a politically correct answer?). It all depends on how you define the word “leader”. If you define in the traditional way that a leader is someone with a position, in charge of a group of people in an organization, then the answer is no, in my opinion. Not everyone, and certainly not all students, have the gift of becoming the president, the president, the CEO, or the key leader of a great team of people. Most will never rank first in a flowchart.
Perhaps only 10 percent of the population. I also hear a lot of excuses as to why people just can't be a leader. They are varied, but I have found a common thread in them. All of them don't embrace what we, at Growing Leaders, consider to be a true definition of leadership. This leads to the following excuses for why people can't lead.
This excuse comes from the traditional definition of leadership. Equate leadership with position and authority. If we define leadership in a different way, it opens up a whole new perspective for students. What if leadership was more about people pursuing a “call in life; a call with which we will influence others to be fulfilled. What if it had more to do with finding an area of strength and, by using that force, we naturally influence others in a positive way? We have chosen this thinking to define leadership.
We believe that it is simply a matter of using our influence for a worthwhile cause. We also believe that influence and authority are not the same thing. Your supervisor can give you a position and, with that, comes the authority. That position allows you to force people to do what you want them to do. It may even be manipulation or intimidation, but it's not healthy leadership.
We believe that your degree can give you authority, but it can't give you influence. Healthy influence is gained by the credibility you bring to a relationship or organization. Naturally, some people will become better leaders than others. Some will become great for organizing large teams of people, or for talking to large groups of people and presenting them with a vision. But leadership isn't limited to these skills. If it's only for the empowered people, then we'll never achieve the good that needs to happen in our lives.
It would be like saying that no one has to serve if they don't have the gift of service; or that they don't have to pay taxes if they don't have a lot of money. We all have a responsibility to do what we can based on our strengths. Leadership is using my influence for a worthwhile cause. This is where research has really helped us discover some facts that are simply contradictory. Interestingly, it seems that I am not the only one who has come to the conclusion that leadership should not be limited to people who hold the highest positions in an organization.
Most people in the United States claim to believe in God or a higher power. If you are a person of faith, you may have heard this argument. The Scriptures do call on Christians to follow. And those who claim to be followers of Christ must serve others.
More and more researchers agree that leadership is a 360-degree proposition. In fact, most of the people who influence your team, your corporation, your nonprofit, in fact, your nation are not the CEOs of those organizations.
We lead, lead and fall in organizations. Dee Hock, former CEO of Visa International, was the first person I heard proposing this notion, and I think he's right.
Influence occurs everywhere and often from the middle of the group. Let's learn to lead and influence in a way appropriate to our talent, and let's not apologize because we'll never be Mother Teresa, or Colin Powell, or Bill Gates. Leadership is a call for each of us, to a certain extent. It's about becoming the person we should be.
It's less about position and more about layout. It's not so much about superiority, but about service in the area of our strengths. It has less to do with a set of behaviors and more to do with a perspective with which we see life. I would love to hear your opinion on this topic.
Tim Elmore is the founder and president of Growing Leaders, an international non-profit organization created to develop emerging leaders. There is a big role for strong followers; not everyone can be a great leader simply because temperaments vary. If you don't have a temper that can allow you to dislike them and move forward; lean on conflict; leave behind the past; and hold people accountable; leadership will be very difficult task. Leadership will be more exhausting and will require more energy to perform.
Leadership comes in all shapes and forms. While there are formal roles that expect leadership; there are also countless opportunities for people to develop leadership skills and perform leadership acts.
What leadership actcan you take today? Everyone is a leader; whether it's a CEO; middle manager; junior manager; factory worker; janitor; entrepreneur; or single parent. The one who leads from the front is a leader; The one who sets an example is a leader; The one who preaches the speech is a leader; The one who takes responsibility is a leader; The one who influences others is a leader.
The one who makes, makes an impact on their environment is also considered as leader regardless their position or title within an organization or society at large.
Everyone has potentials within themselves which can help them become better leaders if they choose so.