What does It take to Be a Leader?

Leadership is one of those words that carry a wide range of connotations. By “leadership,” most people picture someone who holds a formal title in a corporate, organization, government, church, educational or military setting – titles such as a president, director, department manager, provost, team leader, minister, project manager, pope, and so on. Is leadership confined to these contexts?  No, it is so much more.

In reality, leadership occurs everywhere. If there is life, leadership is taking place. Everyone is a leader. That’s because leadership is really a mindset much more than a title. In fact, a title does not guarantee true leadership even though those with powerful titles often have an enormous impact on the world (regardless of whether the impact is desirable or destructive).

The mindset at the heart of leadership involves two dynamics – impact and responsibility. Impact is the effect that each person has on other people – their families, communities, the environment, and the world. When people are aware of their impact on others, and work toward having a positive influence on others, they are engaging in positive or desirable leadership. When people ignore their impact, work toward getting their objectives accomplished regardless of the impact on others, or are interested only in being self-serving, they are engaging in negative or destructive leadership.

Responsibility is a leader’s willingness to notice the impact they have and to respond in a way that is conscientious and appropriate. Even though everyone is responsible for their impact, not everyone takes responsibility for it. People commonly deny responsibility by denying their impact or by blaming others. It is much easier to deny or blame, than it is to take responsibility.

Imagine a world where everyone consistently pays attention to their impact, takes responsibility for it, and chooses a response that is conscientious and appropriate. That alone would change the world. It would exponentially reduce destruction and death. It would counteract conflict. It would alleviate unnecessary pain.

Imagine a world in which you consistently pay attention to your impact, take responsibility for it, and choose a response that is conscientious and appropriate. What difference would this make in your life and the lives of the people you influence? Yes – you are a leader.

So, what does it take to be a leader? Being a leader is not about your title, the power of your position, or how many followers you have. It comes down to two dynamics: impact and responsibility. Be a leader that values desirable outcomes.

Questions to ask yourself each day:

What positive impact did I have today on the people that crossed my path? At my job? For the environment (great leaders are also great stewards) and for my community?

Did I help anyone identify and achieve their vision today- even in a small way?

To your success and happiness,
Corinne McElroy CPCC, ORSC
Leadership Performance Coach


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