Leading May Be Simpler Than You Think

| | General Leadership

It’s time to demystify leadership.

Opportunities abound for leading in any given moment.  Yet all too often we don’t even see the opportunities let alone take them. Perhaps we have set our sights on the grand gestures of leadership; those moments born of pure inspiration that are captured in our history books and continue to inspire us today.  And if that is our standard for what leadership looks like it is no wonder leading seems daunting and inaccessible for so many.  I’ll suggest leading is actually much simpler than it seems.

Consider that “committing an act of leadership” may be no more difficult than “committing an act of kindness”.

Perhaps we have gotten so lost in the theory and lofty ambition of leadership that we have lost the ability to recognize opportunities to lead that are right in front of us each and every day.  You don’t have to be “THE” Leader to be a leader. Rosa Parks didn’t refuse to move to the back of the bus one day to launch the civil rights movement.  She simply took a stand for herself.  And the rest is history.

It’s time we all return to the basics and get focused on the only moment we can make a difference in – NOW!  Leaders take action to translate vision into reality.  That vision can be as small as solving today’s nagging problem or as big as ending world hunger.  They both have one thing in common – they can only be realized one action at a time.  What would be possible if you were to speak up, step up and stand up for what matters most to you?

Anyone can lead in any given moment.  What action could you take today to move one step closer to manifesting one of your visions?


Enter A Comment

Mark Palmer   |   05 January 2009   |   Reply

Great post – we have made leadership into something so complicated when it really is about the random acts – the bite sized pieces.

Jerry Roberts   |   05 January 2009   |   Reply

Great points, Susan.

The Rosa Parks analogy is perfect. Most people feel powerless. They do their work in relative obscurity and often consider themselves invisible to others.

It’s a busy world and if we stand in the shadows, this vision becomes self-fulfilling. However, taking one step forward can change all that.

Every leader can help his/her team by sharing a few responsibilities, which can help people with that first step. Easy ones are:

— Delegate the task to choose a team to plan and produce a company event. Give the basic framework for what you want and then hand it off. The authority to choose the team is key. How will they handle it? Can they sell people on joining, and can they lead the brainstorming effort? I’ve had people tell me that they never really knew how tough my job was until they had to do it. They did the work and I got more respect. How about that?

— Let everybody have a chance to organize and lead a staff meeting. They solicit agenda items, communicate with participants, and sit at the head of the table to run the show. I love doing this because I can better observe participants and their reactions. Not just that, but I get a
break. Booyah!

There are countless ways to do this. After a while, everybody’s feet get a little wet and the shadows are left alone to view the glow of all that new leadership.

You’ve captured a wonderful concept. I look forward to watching it play out.

Susan/Together We Flourish   |   06 January 2009   |   Reply

Thank you for the reminder of how simple the acts of leadership can be. I agree that acts of kindness are acts of leadership. I also know that not all leaders act from a mindset of kindness. My steps today will be to operate from a mindset of what can I do verses what what can I get or have.

semazza   |   18 January 2009   |   Reply

@JerryRoberts Great examples of how to encourage others you manage to lead. As you point out not only will others learn and grow, but it can also take the pressure off of you (for a moment in time anyway!).

heather   |   15 January 2009   |   Reply

I agree with Jerry; love the Rosa analogy. Will have to wrap my brain around this and see where it takes me. be well.

Liara Covert   |   17 January 2009   |   Reply

One perspective is genuine leaders act in ways that are humble. They do not seek titles or recognition but rather, empower people to evolve and view themselves as they really are. In this way, a genuine leader measures his effectiveness based on the expanding awareness of others and how attuned to consciousness they become.

semazza   |   18 January 2009   |   Reply

@LiaraCovert I would agree that fundamentally an Act of Leadership is about making a difference for others and not about ensuring your own advancement. Actions purely motivated by a desire for personal advancement are rarely truly Acts of Leadership. Yet I do believe both motivations can co-exist. I know a lot of ambitious people who are also tremendous leaders. I also know a lot of people who refuse to lead because they are worried about people perceiving them to be too ambitious. Either way we can’t let ambition get in the way. Your thoughts?

Liara Covert   |   19 January 2009   |   Reply

Susan, I share the views of Albus Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series of books by JK Rowling. Albus said;
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

“It is a curious thing,…but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it.”

semazza   |   19 January 2009   |   Reply

@LiaraCovert Thanks Liara. Dumbledore was truly wise. Actually I think Harry committed quite a few acts of leadership along the way… could be a good source of examples.

Jocelyn   |   25 January 2009   |   Reply

Good to read from your blog 🙂 You help to simplify all these theories about leadership and make it more realistic and within reach of common people. There are really so many things being discussed right now about leadership that we hardly know whether leadership is still an attainable task.

semazza   |   25 January 2009   |   Reply

@Jocelyn Thank you – you captured my intention with this site perfectly!

You may be interested in reading the Story Behind the Idea for Random Acts of Leadership – just go to the About tab.

Jo-Anne   |   02 February 2009   |   Reply

As a leader all my life…first from my father dying at a young age and assuming his role in the family and then building and running a 175 person firm… My most successful employees were not the “bosses” but rather those employees that led by simply assuming the position of being the decision maker….their goal right or wrong was just to make more right decisions and quickly course correct the poor ones…they gained the respect, the support and admiration of all of us. I truly believe leadership is earned in every case and can not be simply be appointed.