According to Wikipedia (the premier source for information these days), leadership has been described as the “process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.” I happen to love this definition. So often when we think of leadership we think of the president, the CEO, the one in charge. But it’s so important to remember that leadership has so many more dimensions than that.
Here are a few reasons I love the Wikipedia definition.
- No mention of being in a position of power. Leadership can happen anywhere you are – whether you’re the receptionist or the director. The key is the way you use your relationships and influence. Even as an entry level staff member you can be a leader. If you respect yourself and those around you, everyone will gravitate toward you. And with grace and poise, if you value everyone’s input as you make your own decisions, and demonstrate that you have sound judgment, you are a leader. Leadership happens outside of the workplace as well – it happens in friendships and with family members. When you take the initiative to do the right thing, you are demonstrating your leadership.
- The end goal is a common task. We often think of leadership on a grand scale – changing policy, mobilizing communities, and affecting change. But leadership doesn’t have to only look like that. It can also be shown in everyday life. It’s simply showing others that it’s easy to do the right thing – that will be enough to affect change. You see leadership when someone gives a stranger their seat on the bus. When someone holds the door open for someone else. It’s these small moments that make up the big picture.
- No mention of money. Again, leadership does not only happen when you have the ear of many (whether that’s because you have money or otherwise). It happens when you are sensitive to others and serve as a role model of how to live. That can happen on Wall Street or at the corner store. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have – you can be a leader.
This concept really helps me as I move through my career. I have not been in management positions in the workforce but I feel I have vast leadership experience, which has come from working with others and listening to what they have to say. Because a good leader does that first – listen.