“We’ve made leadership in to something bigger than us. Something beyond us. We’ve taken this title of leader and we treat it as something that one day we are going to deserve. But to give it to ourselves now is a level of arrogance that we are not comfortable with.” – Drew Dudley
A few weekends ago I was catching up on my ‘white space’ activities, one of which is to watch TED Talks on business, leadership, and innovation. As much as I might think I know about leadership I still spend countless hours researching and gaining insight from others who offer a new and different perspective.
On this particular day I was watching a clip from a speaker named Drew Dudley. In this clip Drew opens his speech with the question “How many of you are completely comfortable calling yourself a leader”? Only a handful of people raise their hands. Perhaps not surprising, but most of those in the audience were uncomfortable recognizing they are leaders in their own right today. And what’s amazing is that the audience for a Ted Talk is generally individuals who are enamored with the topic of leadership. Of all people you would think they would overwhelmingly be ‘leaders’.
Here is the interesting thing – leadership is not a destination, it’s a journey. You become a leader the minute you inspire, motivate, or otherwise influence others in a positive way. But what’s more – there is no destination. There is no point in time in which you achieve some symbolic title of leader. And every day you get to choose to be a leader or not. It’s that simple.
If you were to look up leadership in the dictionary, you would find a series of definitions, one of which references “the power or ability to lead other people” and another which simply says “the act or an instance of leading”. Did you catch that second one? “The act or instance of leading”. Think about that. Being a leader may simply be about an “instance” in which your actions, behaviors, or words lead others.
That is what leadership is truly about. So many of us want to glorify this title as something we are unworthy of, and yet we fail to recognize the opportunity to be a leader every single day, literally in every action we take.
How amazing would this world be if we owned leadership in a different and more compelling way? How different indeed!
NOTE: I would encourage you to watch the Ted Talk that Drew Dudley gives on the topic of “Everyday Leadership”. It is a fairly brief clip (approximately 6 minutes) but it’s worth the time. Here is the link: