Everyone leads. Everyone sells. Everyone connects. These are three inevitable and undeniable truths, but we try to dodge them. People deny that they lead in their everyday lives. People refuse to call the persuading and influencing they do “selling” or “leading.” In the midst of all this aversion, we also deny the ways we are connecting with others when we lead and sell. Many people think of leaders as those with position power and authority. Those aren’t leaders. Those are managers. Leaders are the people (managers or not) we choose to follow, the ones who set examples we want to emulate. Leaders are the people around us, at work and elsewhere, who have an impact on us. Leaders are not imbued with special gifts or abilities. They are just like you and me. We are all leaders at times.
You are a leader in your own sphere of influence. Someone is paying attention to what you do, looking to you for guidance and direction. This is happening whether you like it or not, whether you planned for it or not, and whether you realize it or not. We lead when we speak, when we act and when we make decisions. We lead when we communicate and when we interact with others.
The question is this: when we lead, are we doing it well? If we deny we are leading, chances are we aren’t doing it well. Being aware of our roles as leaders increases the likelihood we will be effective. The consciousness of others looking to us as leaders may, in and of itself, improve our leadership.
When we deny we are leaders, what we’re really denying is our responsibility to others. Shirking the title, we believe, alleviates our accountability. That’s why we say things like “that’s not my job” and “it’s not my problem.” Don’t misunderstand – that’s not to say you have to do it all if you recognize you are, indeed, a leader. Instead, it means you help get things accomplished by influencing those who ought to be doing the work or solving the problem. We enable and encourage them so they want to do their part. You see them as leaders, too, regardless of status or position.
We all lead. Some, like parents and teachers, lead significant efforts with profound and clear impact on others. Some, like supervisors, lead as well as manage (if they’re doing it well!). Some, like janitors and fast food workers, lead by example and have many opportunities in the course of a workday to make this brighter for others in seemingly small ways (that add up).
At a minimum, we lead ourselves. We lead ourselves into trouble if we don’t lead ourselves with inspiration and clarity about where we are going. We lead ourselves around in circles if we don’t learn from our mistakes and lead deliberately instead of accidentally. We lead ourselves best when we lead on purpose AND also submit to the leadership we need, too.
The essence of leading is remaining oriented to others. Being aware they are watching and relying on you is the first step in gaining that awareness so you can lead well.
As a leader, it’s imperative to understand why and how to show ever person that you care about them. Learn more about how you can CONNECT2Lead. And be sure to subscribe to the CONNECT2Lead Blog for weekly tips and techniques on leading with a people first approach.