[This is a post by Matt Ham who writes about clearly defining what you seek in life. Specifically, redefining what it means to be rich. He has a forthcoming book titled: You Make My Life Rich: A Journey of Redefining What it Means to be Rich. Matt shares stories, speaks, and coaches on these principles at www.mattham.com. In addition, Matt has an eBook I Am Here: Becoming Unbroken, a testimony of how he began to understand deeper meaning of a rich life. You can pick up a free copy and join the Live Richly Community by clicking here.]
In my professional career, I’ve come across many so-called leaders.
Quite honestly, there’s been an internal struggle with some because their leadership felt like nothing more than a positional designation. Had their job title not contained manager, supervisor, or director, I wouldn’t have had any inclination to be led anywhere.
This caused me to question.
What is leadership?
I went back to an odd place to find, not the answer, but possibly a suggestion.
My high school yearbook.
You know those uncomfortable photos where you don a fake tuxedo top, tilt your head ever so slightly, muster up a cheesy grin, and become forever blessed with an image that is burned into your brain.
In our yearbook, not only did they require the awkward photo, but they also asked for a quote to accompany each headshot. A way to leave your mark. Your chance to say what, for four years, you’ve been trying to understand.
The yearbook quote is a huge deal.
For an 18-year old, you’re not sure about much. Certainty is limited to the reality that you don’t eat in the cafeteria unless you have to. Other than that, who knows.
What would you possible say?
Most of the one-liners are attributed to popular culture. Quips and quotes from the latest band craze or possibly something pulled from an inspirational poster that you’ve seen in the library.
Lately I’ve been developing content for a leadership course and as I was wrestling with my thoughts, I remembered that my high school yearbook quote had something to do with leadership. I’m not sure why or how I remembered that, but I did.
As I flipped through the pages to remember what words I might have chosen, I came upon my all-too-familiar picture and beside it, read these words:
“Leadership is an ability, not a position.”
I can’t tell you where that came from if I tried, but it hit me right between the numbers. It was exactly what I had been wrestling with. My own words from fourteen years ago spoke volumes into my life today.
Leadership has less to do with a title and more to do with an ability that one must recognize and harness. The title is circumstantial. As long as it is the focus, leadership will never flourish.
I believe we look for the title to validate a need within ourselves. A need to matter. A need to prove our worth.
Rather true leadership is something more. It comes from within. A light, a spark, waiting to become a burning flame.
Something you didn’t put there, but something that was placed inside you when you were born.
To harness it is to understand qualities and characteristics that are essential to master. Skills and traits that we must perfect.
Responsibility. Integrity. Courage. Humility
A diligent commitment to become that which we were created to be.
The list of traits and characteristics goes on, but the truth is, we lead people every day. It has little to do with our age, our social status, our geography, or our background. It has everything to do with our willingness to recognize the opportunity.
Our willingness to swim upstream – against the flow.
Our decision to lead.
My challenge to you today is this:
Understand that leadership is within you, waiting for you to recognize it and let it shine.
Questions: Why is good leadership important? What is the greatest characteristic of true leadership?