Leading from Where You Are
A number of years ago, I discovered a love for the study of leadership and found myself constantly reading books and articles, listening to podcasts, or watching TED Talks whenever I could. I became passionate about leading others and learning as much as I could on how to lead.
Yet somewhere along the way I had started to believe a lie. I did not feel like much of a leader and began to tell myself someday I will get there, that eventually I would be the one calling the shots. I would remind myself that I was preparing for that day, for that moment, when I would become "the leader." I had convinced myself I would lead when I reached the next level in whatever I was doing. Then I would be able to prove to myself, and others, that I was a leader capable of doing great things.
Then it hit me. I realized that to truly be the leader I desired to be, I didn't need to move up. I didn't need a new position or title. I needed to lead from where I was. You see, I had bought into this false belief that leadership was tied to a position or that a person needed authority in order to lead others. As much as I had studied, read, watched, and listened to all this information to help prepare me for what was next, what I really needed to work on was who I was, where I was, right now.
There are 3 key points that I believe will help you start leading from where you are:
1. Good Leaders are Good Followers
One of the best ways to truly learn how to be a good leader is to focus on being a good follower. As a follower, you are observing what is working and what is not and, in essence, you are still studying leadership. If leadership is influence in action, then committed, loyal followers help to drive the whole team towards the goal. Instead of just focusing on being a leader, focus on how you are impacting the organization by committing to follow those who are in charge.
2. Invest in Those Around You
Much of the information on quality leadership today centers around the idea of pouring yourself into others. This is extremely valuable advice no matter where you are in the leadership journey. There is always someone looking to move up. Even if you are still on the ground level, there are likely high school or college students who may be interested in what you do. You will be amazed at how much you can fill your cup by first pouring it out into others.
3. Lead by Example
As cliché as it may sound, if you are putting your best in everything you do, you are setting an example. Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone or take on the tasks no one else wants to do. Serve others willingly and do it without expecting anything in return. It's not about impressing the boss or taking on more responsibilities, either. It is an authentic desire to put your best into whatever you do with integrity and confidence.
While these 3 things are far from a complete list, they are steps you can take to start leading from where you are.