You are a leader. Whether a formal or informal leader, you have influence over thousands of people over the course of your lifetime. Many of us are formal leaders with a title of authority. All of us are simply everyday leaders in the various areas of our lives.
Lets break this down further to identify FIVE main areas of our lives in which we have influence and can be intentional in our efforts to lead. There are surely more ways to slice this, but I’d like to focus on these five.
1. Organizational Leadership
This is what we tend to think of first, isn’t it? The corporation, the nonprofit, the association, the religious institution. We think of the hierarchical relationships of leader or manager, and follower. Perhaps we envision an organizational chart.
These are formal leaders in the workplaces where we pour out much of ourselves and our time. These are the individuals whose behavior and actions can empower or deny; inspire or discourage; build a team or block its creativity and flow; make or break the success of the vision.
But what of the informal organizational leader? The less visible, unsung hero of the workplace whose attitude, efforts, authenticity, kindness and earned respect of those around them inspire others, promote goodwill and team cohesiveness.
Or even the informal leader whose attitude, behaviors, apathy and negativity bring others down; inspire doubt; slow down progress; and create rifts in communication?
Many without a formal title do not think of themselves as leaders. As I’ve said before, you must ask yourself… “What kind of leader will I be?”
2. Community Leadership
As humans, we are wired to be in community with one another. Whether local, national, or global, we all have a part to play in the care and nurturing of each other and the communities in which we live. We might do this through:
- organizing or participating in a neighborhood clean-up campaign
- mentoring or tutoring inner city kids
- building awareness for a global issue and raising support for a nonprofit that’s working to address the need
There are many ways to lead in our communities, from the most simple and not-so-obvious to complex, time-consuming commitments that fuel our passions for causes we believe in.
3. Family Leadership
How many times do you think of yourself as simply a parent working hard to get by and provide for your family to the best of your ability? How many times, instead, do you think of yourself as a leader who can create a vision and purpose for your family?
You are in a beautiful and unique position to mold and shape the character of your children through your leadership influence as a parent. How your children develop, as future leaders (in their families, communities, and organizations) is shaped partly by who they are innately; but in large part by the leadership and example of those who care for and nurture them to adulthood.
Family leadership also applies to your family of origin and your extended family. How are your actions today contributing to and growing the strength of your family tree and all of its branches?
4. Social Leadership
Social leadership is a bit of a catch-all for our everyday interactions with those all around us. It has a lot to do with character. Here are a few examples:
- Others trust that you are honest, genuine, and will do what you say you will do
- You treat others with respect and dignity, regardless of who they are and what they’ve done
- You seek to make a difference, even if “it’s not my job”
As you see, social leadership is not only about character, but it also moves into emotional intelligence, including empathy for others and the ability to build rapport and relationships. And it leads very nicely into the next sphere of influence:
5. Self Leadership
As Socrates claimed “Know thyself,” self-leadership is developing an understanding of who you are, what you can do, the vision of where you want to go, and the ability to regulate your emotions and behavior.
When you exhibit self-leadership, you are clear on your innate personality traits, your unique strengths and weaknesses, your needs, values, and drives. You get clear on those assumed or long-held beliefs that often get in your way of accomplishing your goals. You’re also clear on how all these things affect others and your performance.
Self-leadership is deciding to exercise choice and act with intention rather than just being controlled by circumstances and whim.
As a self-leader, you recognize where you need to get direction and support from others in order to grow and develop or achieve a goal.
Learn it. Apply it.
Now it’s your turn.
- Describe an aspect of leadership or a sphere of influence that you never considered before.
- In what ways do you see yourself as a leader in each of the spheres of influence?
- What are the results of your actions as a leader?
- Developing in any area of leadership begins with self-leadership. What action will you commit to today?