Do you remember the phrase “lead, follow, or get out of the way”? It was usually uttered when someone was hesitating at the front of a group and others were impatient to start. The message was to take the lead or follow a lead, but don’t stand in the way of the group moving. Today there is confusion about leadership with most standing around looking for leaders.
Most people if you ask them will deny that they are and will profess neither desire nor competency for it. Even people who join Toastmasters, whose slogan is “where leaders are made”, will say that they joined just to be better speakers, not leaders. But I have news for you – everyone is a leader, even you. You are a leader, whether you realize it or not, whether you occupy a “leadership” role or not.
Why is that? Anytime we speak in front of a group – like at a Toastmaster or Rotary meeting or at work, we have a point to make, something we want others to learn or do. We want to move them to action, persuade them to live differently, or change their minds. And in so doing we are trying to lead them. So we are leaders.
Even when we aren’t speaking, formally or not, we are leading by example. Someone, somewhere, for some reason, is watching you and you can be and are a role model, hopefully for good.
There are many types of leaders, the good, the bad, and the ugly. We see them all the time. Part of the problem in our world is that there are often too many people sitting on the sidelines and not stepping up to lead. One result is that there are many good leaders who get burned out by having to bear a heavy load of responsibility. On the other hand, there are many who are way too eager to lead but the path they take is a downward slope to disaster.
Another problem is blind following. People will follow a leader but leave their minds behind. They possess no critical thinking skills and accept whatever the leader proposes without question. Loyalty is admirable but not at the expense of active minds that test what the leader says for accuracy and kindness.
The last issue with leadership is change. Our world is rapidly changing and we have to keep pace with it. We have to be able to adapt and not just get stuck in a rut of traditional practices and thinking patterns. Effective leaders need to be forward-thinking and willing to take risks to make progress.
Bene Brown wrote a book on just that topic – Dare to Lead. Check it out at buy dare to lead brene brown – Search (bing.com)
This week in my blog posts I want to share with you some ideas for risk-taking creative leadership and challenge you to brainstorm how you will step out into risk in your own sphere of influence. I hope you will follow me and share your thoughts.