Are you an everyday leader? You are if you are influencing people around you in one way or another. Many everyday leaders, however, tend to make a critical mistake when it comes to leading others. They don’t realize they matter. Everyday leaders everywhere make a critical mistake. They fail to realize that they matter when it comes to leading others.
Everything starts with belief. Before you can lead others, you have to lead yourself and believe that you can have a positive impact on your circle of influence and in the lives of others. You have to believe that your words and actions influence others whether you intend to or not. In any leadership role (business, organizationally, community, family), you can make all the difference. Yet, for most everyday leaders their focus is not on this fact, but rather it is on the “reactionary treadmill.” External factors like the economy and responding to the requests and agendas of others tend to steal their time and attention.
The reality is whatever you need to lead, you already have. Traditionally leadership has been portrayed as something that is found mostly at the top. There is this belief that leadership is reserved for a select few men and women who possess charismatic traits. The reality is that leadership is distributed among all levels within our society. I have witnessed leaders in elementary school, within my neighborhood community, and within organizations.
Most often leadership will emerge in an area of passion or interest. The father who wants to give his children the upbringing that he did not have; the entrepreneur who is passionate about his product or idea; the middle school student who starts a campaign because she is fed up with bullying; the manager who develops and motivates his people because he knows what it's like to work for a tyrant; the mother who starts an online exercise business because she is passionate about health and nutrition.
Whatever the reason, there is an internal drive and passion that thrusts people into a place of leadership. People who do not wake up every day with a focus or a passion often lead from the victim mindset resorting to blame, justification, and excuses.
The truth is, as an everyday leader you do make a difference. And how you choose to lead yourself is going to impact everything in your life. The people that you affect on a daily basis are influenced by what you do and how you conduct yourself. A study, which assessed over one million people around the globe looking at the practices of leaders showed clearly that people feel engaged and positive about their environments when the leader modeled positive behaviors and actions. Factors like age, gender, ethnicity, function, position, organizational size, industry, and education together accounted for less than 1% of the reason that people felt productive, motivated, energized, effective, and committed in their environments. The leader's behavior accounted for majority of the reason as to how people responded. If a leader does not believe that he makes a difference, then his ability to influence and impact will be limited. It all starts with belief.
I have found that when working with leaders, good or bad, they often underestimate the power of their leadership influence. They fail to see how their thoughts, words, and behaviors affect the people around them for the positive. One of my favorite quotes is from the author Marianne Williamson who has written:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.... Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.... And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Before you can lead you have to believe that you can have a positive impact on others. You have to believe in yourself. You have to realize that you have the opportunity to not just show up, but to truly make your world impactful by the choices and actions you make.