The Every Day Art of Practicing Leadership
Contrary to the notion that leadership is a rare position reserved for the elite among us, I believe that leadership is an everyday art and discipline. I believe this because every person, no matter his or her station in life, influences others through word, action, and attitude. Try to get through one day without having someone’s behavior affect your life. You’d have to stay home with doors and windows closed, all communications channels turned off, and your memory wiped clean of all previous interactions.
Puts things in a new perspective, doesn’t it? If you stop to think about all the people you interact with, either intentionally or by simple virtue of your daily routine, you realize the amazing number of opportunities you have to practice leadership and frankly, to declare yourself.
You can demonstrate care and concern or… indifference. You can show people how to be attentive and thoughtful or… oblivious. You can show respect and appreciation or… disdain.
Do you look at a person who’s talking to you? This shows interest and respect and lets the person know that he or she is valued. Seems like a little thing to do to have that kind of impact, doesn’t it?
Do you pause long enough to understand what’s going on around you before taking action? This demonstrates intellectual engagement and some evidence of judgment. Do you look both ways before you cross the street? This shows you’re aware that others might be present and that you have some concern for safety. Do you consider the impact of your words before you let them fly? Sadly, too many don’t.
I’m amazed sometimes at the lack of engagement I see today and at the countless lost opportunities we all have to practice leadership and influence the course of life. Whether you believe you’re important or not, you are part of a much larger system than the one in which you think your private thoughts and live your unique life. You have influence. You are teaching. If I encountered you today—even by chance—what would I learn from you?