Today, while preparing for my weekly coaching course, I was reading through my course manual and came across two statements spoken by a client in a coaching example.
“…being a leader isn’t necessarily about having follower. It’s possible to lead from behind or the side.”
“Leadership doesn’t require getting on a soapbox and telling everyone how it’s done. It’s about showing people how you do it.”
I don’t think anyone could define this better. We sometimes think of leadership as the bigger-than-life person at the top of a successful business, ruling their empire with rules, creeds, and declarations and passing judgment on the minions in the employ. But when we really consider where leadership is actually used in our lives we see that it becomes an option of condition.
When I was in my teens, there was a girl that was very tough. She lead a group of people that followed her around the school, doing what she did, laughing at what she laughed at, harassing people that she disliked. She was a bully. One day she decided that I was standing in her spot on the patio off the cafeteria. Can you imagine owning a two foot square spot in the back of a public school? I couldn’t so I looked at her like she was speaking another language. I remember her getting right in my face all threatening and puffed up and I stood my ground, not because I wanted to fight, but because I knew that if I were to move others would also be threatened in this way and her feeling of ownership would escalate.
She eventually withdrew. I was nearly in tears because I knew if it came to blows I was going down, but what I learned that day was I lead the way for others to be comfortable in a place where they should feel safe and I modeled a way that was not a mirror of the bully they feared.
If I had opted to fight her for her spot or concede and walk away, I would not have chosen the leadership way. We make these choices almost every day, in how we respond to the situations around us – with our children, in our interactions with the people at the store, on our commute, at school, in our jobs and yes, when building our businesses. When you lead with integrity you give a gift to everyone that witnesses you. They see a person they can look up to and model for their own lives.
Be the best leader you can be.