There are leaders, and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or influence. Those who lead inspire us. Whether individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead not because we have to, but because we want to. We follow those who lead not for them, but for ourselves.Simon Sinek
Last year I witnessed a leader in action, and I knew I wanted to be like her. She was both a leader by position and also one of those people who lead by inspiring others. I was attending a coaching workshop, and she was one of the facilitators. We were well into the second day of a three-day weekend and by this time I had already come to know most of the fifteen participants quite well. This was the kind of workshop where you learn by doing. We’d made an agreement up front that each one of us was willing to practice our newly acquired skills by coaching others in the class as well as helping our fellow students by allowing ourselves to be coached. One of the first people I was paired with was a girl I’ll call Andrea. Andrea had clearly not bought into the agreement. As I sat across from her, trying to coach her, I realized that she was not a willing participant. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to coach someone who doesn’t want coaching… it doesn’t work. The phrase, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” comes to mind. I left the exercise feeling irritated and angry with this girl thinking, “Why did you even bother to come if you’re not willing to participate? You’re sabotaging your learning and mine.” I tried my best to avoid her for the rest of the workshop. I’m not proud of that. I was also aware that my fellow students were having problems with Andrea.
As the afternoon of the second day was coming to a close, the leader was going to do a coaching demonstration. She got to pick someone from the class to be coached in front of the whole room. I could not believe my eyes when she picked Andrea. Was she CRAZY? This unwilling girl was bound to make her look like a failure and a fool in front of everyone. Choosing Andrea felt like a very bold move on her part. The courage of this leader shone as brilliantly as the sun in that moment. She proceeded into the fifteen-minute demo session with kindness, gentleness and a fierce belief in Andrea’s ability to engage and experience transformation. Her actions and attitude that day marked me. That’s the kind of leader I want to be – courageous, kind and holding onto a fierce belief that all people are worth our effort.
Leadership can be about holding a position of power or influence, but it’s also about the way we choose to show up in our lives – show up for ourselves, for other people and about how we take responsibility for our community and our world. It’s about understanding our power to influence those around us. It’s about knowing that how we show up in a room, a conversation or our community can change things.
When is the last time you walked into a room and consciously decided to shift the whole frequency of the place? That’s how much power we have!
We may not have caused everything to happen in our own lives and around us, but we do choose how we will respond.
This is the kind of leader I want to be, not necessarily one with a position of power, but one that sees a need and steps up to use what I’ve been given to make a difference. One that is courageous, kind and believes that all people are worth our effort. The kind of person that leads by knowing I have the power to influence every room I walk into and every conversation I am a part of.
What kind of leader do you want to be?