“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams.
I’m sure most of us have seen or even used this quote in the past. When leaders speak of making others better it seems rather cliche at times, we tend to shrug it off as a platitude and toss it aside. We forget about how much a leader, one who is decisive, caring and even keeled can mean to people. Leaders come in many forms in our lives. When most think of leaders, they think of the “star” of the team, the head of the company. However, the most influential leaders can be those who blend in with the team We need to keep in mind that leadership is not reserved to a few but to many. Leaders can be those who are in the background, leading with their actions. There is no role too small to be a leader. It is those leaders who make us better without us knowing it. It’s the actions that make us change our own game.
We know that great leaders put others out front and allow them to lead. Great leaders care as much but developing more leaders as they do about their own success. These leaders allow their influence to be temper with teaching not preaching their message. They take the time to help and mentor their teams, employees and others to make them more confident, more capable and more fulfilled. A leader is one who inspires us to dig deep within ourselves, one who doesn’t make themselves the lead in the story, rather, they highlight those around them.
On the flip side, there are leaders who can be less than stellar who inspire us as well. Leaders who are more about ME than WE. I’m sure we can all relate personal experiences where we’ve worked for leaders who are better at creating negativity and discord versus those that create a nurturing and safe environment where we can be all we can. However, even in those moments, there is a lesson to be had from those who are self-centered and focused on their own goals. We may not know it at the time, but these leaders may provide us with the most important lessons. We see from their lack of leadership a template of how not to lead. In these moments, they are making us better by the sheer fact that their leadership is inspiring us to change the way we lead others to be their best.