When you think about leadership, what do you think of?
Do you think of people leading the cause, marching up front, moving ahead, intent on vision and addressing whatever challenges may come their way? Serious, intent, focused?
Do you think of people setting the course, " bringing people with them," moving ahead of everyone else, "daring to go where no other man has ever gone"? Engaging, trustworthy, risk-taking, empowering?
These are pretty common images that come up with leadership. But what about these:
It is easy to forget about these "places" as opportunities for leadership. Often leadership is abdicated to the "guy up front" or the person in the official "leadership role." The secret is that we all have an opportunity to lead. All of the time. The roles, and what leadership requires of us may just look different.
For sometimes we'll be driving initiatives, setting direction, "leading the way", while at others, it's our job to serve the people we lead. To be great "participant leaders", to practice "servant leadership", to do whatever we need to do to ensure that the mission is successful, that we're all successful; to stay engaged.
To forget that we have an opportunity to lead in every situation, is to give up a huge place of power in ourselves that enables us to be strong, productive, engaging human beings that make contributions in the most useful ways. It is also a lost opportunity for growth and deep connection with others.
Complaining, abdicating, sitting back and watching someone else lead; waiting for "leadership do its thing" will "get you nowhere fast." But showing up as a leader in your life, in even the simplest way, and creating an impact with that leadership, will move you forward in big ways. When we move from "waiting" to "leading" - it's powerful. We step into places we didn't know we had in us, and we inspire the same in others. Inspiring others to lead? Yet another act of leadership.
Regardless of where we stand in any situation, there is always the opportunity to "lead from where you stand" or to "lead from where you sit." It's up to you to step into it. What do you see that needs leadership? Where can you support others who have the responsibility of "up front" leadership? Where can you evoke leadership in those around you? Where can your authentic leadership help move your team, and the initiative you are working on, forward? It's worth thinking about. And it's definitely worth doing. In fact it's vital. To your success, to your team's success, to the cause you support. We can't do it alone. We need leadership in every direction.
So go forth and lead. And consider: Where am I truly leading in my life and organization? Where am I missing opportunities for leadership? Where am I waiting for leadership? Where can I be empowering more leadership? Where (or who) can I help move things forward? Where might I be sitting on my complaints? What am I going to do about it?
Answer just one of these questions, do something about it, and see what you can shift today. You may be surprised at what even the littlest act of leadership can do.
And this, my friend, is how mountains get moved.
Anese Cavanaugh is a certified coach, author and speaker and the founder of Dare To Engage, Inc., a company devoted to helping leaders become top leaders in their organizations and their lives through coaching and training. Her specialty is helping leaders build a healthier, more engaged workforce, retain their top talent, develop greater authentic engagement and create stronger personal sustainability. She holds a degree and multiple credentials in the areas of coaching, wellness, leadership development and health & productivity improvement. For more about Anese or the Dare To Engage Programs or to receive a complimentary report and audio on "Energy & Results" go to www.DareToEngage.com.