The word leader is often associated with seniority, job roles, and positions in a hierarchy. There is also the assumption by some people that leaders are born rather than made. It can suggest that the idea of leading is only for a chosen few. Yet, from my experience, we all have the potential to be an influential everyday leader. What does that look and feel like? How can you tap into your strengths and talents to make a difference in your world?
Here are 9 signs you are on the way to being an everyday leader.
You step up
An everyday leader takes responsibility, is prepared to be accountable, and makes decisions. Stepping up to take the initiative and showing that something can be done. For instance, you don’t wait to be asked to fix a problem, to offer an idea or to change something. Instantly, you become a role model for others. Make something happen that wouldn’t occur without your unique contribution.
Your glass is half-full
You are comfortable with humility
An everyday leader is confident enough in their own skin to know when and who to ask for help and support. You recognise your current or enduring limitations and pull on other people’s strengths to complement your own. Increase your comfort with uncertainty or lack of knowledge by being open to different perspectives. Turn the vulnerability you feel into a strength through pulling towards you the people who want to help.
You are courageous
We all have fears, concerns and things we don’t like doing. Past mistakes and failures can weigh heavily on our present and future demands. Living with uncertainty is uncomfortable. The everyday leader acknowledges these things and finds ways of overcoming them. Have the courage to step out of your comfort zone, create your own certainties, lead for yourself and be assertive to achieve results.
You ask questions
The everyday leader doesn’t settle for the status quo. Curiosity and a desire to continuously improve things prompt your questions. Be inquisitive and adopt a lifelong learning mindset.
You show genuine interest in others
Leading is about people. It’s not for sociopaths. We all warm to people who take a genuine interest in us. It’s the basis of rapport and trust building. Share and receive without judging and watch how the other person responds.
You are flexible and adaptable
If you adopt the previous mindsets and behaviours, this one will come naturally. Because being flexible and adaptable sometimes takes courage, it helps meet the needs of others and involves a can-do intent. Crucially, it ensures things get done, especially when the best-laid plans go awry.
You invest in something bigger than yourself
The everyday leader looks outwardly and sees the bigger picture. You look beyond the narrow confines of your role, use your antennae, and contribute to the greater good for your customer or user, team, section, employer or sector. Service to others is the DNA of leading and it trumps self-serving.
You are an effective follower
Leaders and followers complement and influence each other. People follow your lead because of how you make them feel, for example, inspired, empowered, and valued. They respond by behaving in ways that support or align with the expectations you set. An effective follower is grounded and unafraid to question (with tact) the prevailing thinking. You take the time to understand the pressures and challenges facing more senior people. You show you are just as passionate about the business because you care enough. Keep senior leaders informed, do the right thing and help them to become better leaders.
Being an everyday leader is a choice
In summary, leading is a choice, a mindset and a set of behaviours. There is no one way of leading – it depends on you, the people around you, and your specific context. And, let’s be honest, you won’t truly learn to lead through this blog post, a book, a YouTube video, or a training course. Because it comes through iterative experience. That’s why everyone should have a mentor. Instead, embed an everyday leader mindset through what you do on a daily basis. Test yourself by stepping into new and different situations. Notice what works for you, and more importantly, what difference it makes for other people.