"If you're big enough for your dream, your dream isn't big enough for you." Erwin Raphael McManus, pastor and author.
We are passionate when it comes to developing leaders. We have a vast library of leadership resources, and like many other things, the pursuit of leadership can be made very complicated. Organizations invest resources in individuals who have been tapped as high potentials, those individuals who have demonstrated leadership capacity in some way. And, that's all well and good.
But, we believe that most organizations need more than just a few leaders at the top of the command chain. Organizations need people who can and will take the lead from whatever role they may be playing, whether leader, manager, or supervisor is a part of their job title, or not. As a matter of fact, having a title does not make one a leader. Leadership is about being of service to others, finding a leadership void, and stepping up, rather than waiting for someone to come along and take the lead. Leadership is about accepting responsibility, even when it may not be in our job description. And, even when we are not being paid for doing so.
Henniges Automotive in New Haven, Missouri conducts business under a "shared leadership model," which is designed to involve every employee in some aspect of leadership. Adhering to this model, this plant has survived the worst downturn ever in American Automotive history, while managing to maintain a profit.
Every one of us has the opportunity to lead, every day. No matter our position, no matter how long we have been there. We like John Maxwell's definition of leadership. He describes leadership as positive influence.
Can it be that simple? Mark Sanborn, author of the book, "You Don't Need a Title to Be a Leader" relates a story about a student who once asked a martial arts master how long it would take him to master the martial art he was learning. The master replied, "How long do you expect to live?" Mastering leadership, too, is a lifelong process. No question. But, we believe that when you are committed to make a positive difference and you take the initiative to make it happen, you are a leader. We are great fans of Just Do It Leadership.
We may think of leaders as those who have been anointed with power based upon the position they fill. While that is indeed a source of power, we can easily miss another source of power, personal power. That is the power we generate by being ourselves. Yes, we come equipped with everything we need to generate our own power. Interestingly, we can connect or disconnect from our own power, at will.
We hear a lot about "born leaders" or "natural leaders." And, for some leadership comes a little more easily. But, leadership can be learned. We can choose to step out and take the lead in small or large situations, thus practicing and building our leadership muscles.
Mark Sanborn points out that "anyone at any level can learn to be a leader and help to shape or influence the world around them."
* Do you shape your life and career?
* Do you affect the quality of others' experience?
* Do you inspire or influence others?
* Do you work to achieve specific goals by collaborating with or coordinating the efforts of others?
* Do you identify and help to solve problems?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are already a leader, according to Mark Sanborn, and we agree.
"You have within you more resources of energy than have ever been tapped, more talent than has ever been exploited, more strength than has ever been tested, more to give than you have ever given." John Gardner, former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare