My husband and I were recently discussing the concept of leadership over sushi and wine at our favorite Asian fusion restaurant when he asked me an interesting question, “Who are you leading?” I took a moment for thoughtful consideration of the question and answered: “Well, I am leading the most difficult person in the world…me! I am also leading my kids, and every person who enters my therapy office for counseling.”
John Maxwell defines leadership as influence- nothing more, nothing less. Leadership is not a title or position and sometimes the person with all the influence in the organization is not even the one with the title. The person with the most influence could be the one with the least power.
So often we complicate this term and ascribe meaning to it that simply does not fit. For example, in most of my conversations with people, I hear the term manger in place of leader, but the two are not synonymous. Think of it this way: you manage things, but you lead people.
And good leadership starts with you! You see, I can lead my peers, I can lead those who report to me and I can even lead the ones to whom I report, but if I cannot lead myself why in the world would anyone want to follow me?
Leading yourself well means:
You are coachable- you know how to follow as well as lead
You are accountable to someone- you have a mentor
You are self-disciplined- you know when to ask for help and take appropriate measures to self-educate and/or self-correct
You pursue patience- and are not prone to outbursts of anger
You hold yourself to a higher standard- you refrain from self-indulgence and strive for excellence
You are the hardest person you will ever lead and you are the most important person you will ever lead and leading yourself is one of the most important things you will ever do as a leader.
***Jenny Compton is a certified leadership coach, teacher and speaker with the John Maxwell Team.***