I saw a man named Drew Dudley speak about leadership on a video the other day. He opened his speech with this question:
“How many of you are completely comfortable with calling yourselves a leader?”
It was a pretty big audience and only a few people put up their hands.
Dudley confirmed that is what he usually ran into. He said that it was his conviction that we have made leadership bigger than ourselves. We are only willing to associate it with large things.
He went on to tell a story about how a student at a college he attended came up to him on graduation day to tell him that based on a single encounter with him as a freshman she had decided to stay in school when she was thinking about dropping out. In fact, the encounter had caused her to be introduced to a man that she was now ready to marry. It had been a life changing experience for her.
Then he confessed: “I didn’t remember it.” He said it was a chance encounter at a student orientation. He was just being friendly. He didn’t know what was at stake. It was just him being nice to a new student. And, it made an impact.
As you go through life, you can usually look around and find two kinds of people: some that have it better off than you and the rest that don’t. And, the truth is, whatever camp we put them in, we certainly don’t have the whole story. We are just guessing.
At PalletOne, we believe in teaching that “you lead where you stand.” To be sure, we have people in positions of authority and accountability where leadership is required. But those in the positions of authority and accountability aren’t the only people who can lead. It isn’t the only place where leadership can come.
As a body, we have a combined range of experiences that are astounding. Some of them happened at work but many more have come from your experiences outside of work. And, the truth is, those experiences won’t be used to influence and to lead others if you keep them to yourselves.
Every organization could gain by several behaviors:
Everyone endeavoring to speak up more when they see something that could help the team.
Everyone opening themselves up to listen for quality ideas and thoughts no matter who states them. Giving the quality of the idea precedence over the source of the idea.
Everyone expressing more encouragement to those who are willing to make a statement, try something new or accept new responsibilities, because that is leadership without position.
Dudley ended his comments by stating: “We don’t know how powerful we are. There is not one world, only 6 billion views of the world. And if we can change them, we change the world.”
You can lead. You will get more confidence as a leader as you practice it. I hope if Dudley ever has a chance to speak to one of our groups and he asks, “How many of you are completely comfortable with calling yourselves a leader?” that he is overwhelmed by the response.