I Dare You to Lead

 

I dare you to lead…from right where you are. I dare you to lead…with just the skills you have available to you today. I dare you to lead…with the title and position you have today…even if you have no title and no position. I dare you to lead…this very minute! 

 

We don’t need more leaders in the world. What we need is for more leaders to lead. Most leaders today are leaders in waiting. They are waiting for the title that will make them a leader. They are waiting for “leadership skills” to somehow magically appear. They are waiting for the right “opportunity” to come along and then they will spring into leadership action. 

 

For some of the leaders the waiting may seem necessary. Others know that they are simply procrastinating. Still others are hiding from their fear of failing as a leader behind the safety net of waiting. 

 

Whatever their reasons the waiting is usually an excuse. No one who possesses the ability to influence another person need wait one more second. They can chose to lead right now, today.

 

Nothing makes you a leader but leading. Don’t buy into the myth that you need a lofty position or a fancy sounding title to lead. No title, no position, no timing and no opportunity can make you a leader. 

 

You must decide to lead. When you suddenly start leading there may be people in your sphere of influence who are offended. Lead anyway.

 

People like me can’t really “teach” leadership. We can only talk about how to lead. We can only explain the common characteristics of authentic leaders.  We can only describe the frequently repeated mistakes of poor leaders. 

 

But the only way to truly learn how to lead is to lead. Deal with your mistakes along the way, learn from them and lead better the next day. If you’re waiting until you are comfortable with your leadership skills and completely confident in your leadership abilities, then you may never lead at all. 

 

Authentic Leaders are often less than comfortable and completely confident with all the decisions they make and all the actions they take. They lead anyway! 

 

There has never been a great leader who was great on their first day of leading. Everyone learns along the way. Don’t wait until you think you’re good enough. Begin leading today and dedicate yourself to working hard to become the leader you’ve been waiting to become. 


I dare you!


Leading Doesn’t Make You a Better Person

When most people think of leading they tend to think of leading people “below” themselves in a business or organization. That is a very dangerous way to think because it’s hard to think of people “below” you without also thinking you’re somehow “above” the people you lead.

You also might begin to delude yourself into thinking you are somehow a “better” person than the people you lead. If you’re truly going to lead then you had best understand from your very first day as a leader that no title or position makes you a better person than anyone else. 

It’s not even your title or position that makes you a leader. Your thinking and your actions make you a leader. Even more than that, it’s your people that make you a leader because no matter what you think or do, if no one is following then you’re not leading. 

I am a strong believer in the concept of 360 degree leadership and I understand the reality of different “levels” within any organization. Unless you’re actually at the top of your organizational chart there will likely always be people above and below you on that chart. 

The secret to being an Authentic Servant Leader is to never think for a moment that because someone is below you on an organizational chart that they are somehow below you in life.

People are where they are in their lives for a lot of reasons. Some had more luck than others, some made more luck than others. Some maybe were born with more advantages, some perhaps married into additional advantages. Some people may have earned a higher station in life and then somehow lost it. Our lot in life changes, sometimes because of what we did, sometimes because of what we didn’t do and sometimes it changes for no apparent reason.

The point is we are really pretty much all the same and the moment you start thinking you’re hot stuff is the very moment you begin the lose the empathy and compassion required to actually be an Authentic Servant Leader.

If you’ve been blessed with a leadership title or position, or if you’ve truly been blessed and have been given the ability to lead others without needing a title or position, then accept that blessing with humility. 

No one is better than you and you’re no better than anyone else. It’s life’s perfect balance! 

When we start thinking we’re better, or worse than someone else, then that balance is thrown off. Pretty much every problem, issue and challenge we will ever have is in some way caused by that “off-balance” thinking. 

Every person is in some way special. When you understand that simple fact then and only then do you have the opportunity to be a truly special leader.

Titles Can’t Lead

You’ve worked hard to earn your title and position of leadership. You’ve done more than required of you and now you have the opportunity to truly make a difference.

Maybe you’ve just lucked into the title. Maybe you were born into the position, or married into it. Maybe you’ve benefited from the Peter Principle and got the position because “they” tried you in other roles and you did okay.

Either way, whether you lucked into a position or you’ve really earned it, your title and position of leadership does not make you a leader.

Being a leader requires that you actually lead somebody.

If you manage people you’re likely a boss, not a leader.

If you lead people to act as you act and you can influence them to behave in a certain way you’re probably an effective leader. The challenge with being an effective leader is that despite some success you’re likely still not helping your people reach their full potential.

If you lead people to act as you act and you care as much about your followers as you care about yourself, and if you influence your people in a way that helps them become a leader and you celebrate their success as much as or more than your own then you’re almost certainly an Authentic Servant Leader.

When you help people accomplish more than they ever believed possible, because you believed in them even more than they believed in themselves, then you are a leader of leaders.

No one leads merely by sitting in a leader’s chair. If you’re really going to lead you have to do something.

You see, accepting an important sounding title or position does not make you a leader. It may however make it possible to force the compliance of your people. You may be able to “scare” them into doing what you want but fear is a very poor long-term motivator.

If you settle for the compliance of your people you will always have “personnel issues” to deal with. Your people will simply do the bare minimum required to maintain their job. They will always be restless and not in a constructive way. They will underperform and they will frustrate you. And it will all be because of you; you may have filled the office of the leader but you’ve left a leadership void.

A title or position does not make you a leader, nor does it lead for you. It merely gives you a bit of time to earn the opportunity to truly lead. The extent of your leadership will be determined by you and those who you would lead. If you can show that you care enough about your followers as people then they will allow you to lead them. Yes, I said allow.

If you think you can make people follow you then you had better think again. You may be able to make them comply but leading people requires their permission and commitment. If your people are not committed to you then they will not follow you. There is no way to force someone to commit to you. Their commitment must be earned.

Compliance causes people issues, commitment solves them.

People commit to a leader when they discover that the leader cares about them as people. When a leader proactively, intentionally and consistently shows that they care then their followers will know without a doubt that the leader has their best interests in mind.

When they know the leader has their best interests in mind they will go above and beyond to help the leader. You’ll never hear a committed follower say “that’s not in my job description.”

Leadership requires more than a title; it requires action on the part of the leader. If you are counting on your position or title to gain the commitment of your people then you are missing the leadership boat.

Take action to show you care. Invest yourself in the success of your people. Freely give your time and expertise to those you would lead. Make a difference for other people.

That is how Authentic Servant Leadership works!