By Jarred Parsons
Every person on this great big blue planet is a leader. Yes – that includes you.
‘We can’t all be leaders’ I hear you say. After all, a leader needs followers and if there are followers those followers are not leaders. This assumes that a leader is always leading and that a follower is always following. However, life is a little more complicated than we sometimes like to believe. The reality is leaders don’t always exclusively lead and followers don’t always exclusively follow. We all do a bit of both.
Leadership is influence. When you influence someone you lead them. Some of us lead more than others. Some of us lead better than others. Never the less – we all lead in some shape or form.
A simply act of sharing your opinion can influence how another person thinks about the topic of discussion. That’s a result of leadership.
Leadership can be big. Leadership can be small. Leadership can be positive. Leadership can be negative. Leadership can be obvious. Leadership can be completely oblivious. Leadership can be deliberate. Leadership can be accidental.
For almost 15 years I was involved in leading youth and young adults groups through my church. It was an incredible season of my life and along the way I established the foundations of my leadership skills and discovered a lot about who I am. It was also a very rewarding and impacting experience.
During part of my season I was lucky enough to have an awesome youth pastor by the name of Ps Louis Fife who was very passionate about leadership and growing/developing leadership in others.
Ps Louis taught us a lot and his leadership has shaped much of mine.
My all time favourite leadership quote came from Ps Louis. “Leadership is empowering (young) people for greatness.”
Our world tends to be very self centric. From an early age we’re told we need to get a career and make as much money as possible and buy a good house and do all you can to be successful and wealthy. It’s rare that someone will tell you that empowering other people is a measure of success.
Empowering people for greatness is a very powerful approach to leadership. When we deliberately choose to build people up, to empower them and help them grow in their own leadership we create a leadership phenomenon called multiplication.
When you build and empower other leaders, they tend to take your influence and spread it further. Instead of just you leading, it becomes you and another person leading. And if you’re empowering multiple people who then go on to influence others your leadership suddenly has the opportunity to influence more people and to spread further than had it just been you on your own. And if you train your initial leaders to develop leaders your influence spreads even further again.
Structurally – a true leader doesn’t necessarily need to climb a corporate ladder to grow their influence. A true leader grows influence by drawing followers and increasing the numbers they influence rather than taking an increased positional authority over people to gain more influence. Sometimes we think because someone has a position or a title they are a leader but this is not always the case. There’s a big difference between leadership and management and many people in positions aren’t leaders but rather managers with a title. They manage what they have and they don’t tend to grow more influence outside their current situation. Their influence is positional. If they stepped out of that position they may find their influence dissolves almost instantly but a true leader can carry a high degree of influence even without the title or position.
The key to being a really great leader is having clear purpose and a destination goal in mind. If you’re going to lead… you need to know where you are going, why you are going there and why someone else should follow. It’s easy to lead without vision and purpose but the results are usually haphazard and fleeting. A leader with a clear vision and purpose is working towards a destination point… a visible end dream. Most followers are happy to be led when they can see clear vision and purpose and the bigger the vision the more inspiring it is likely to be.
You may not feel like much of a leader right now. Or maybe you feel like a great leader. Either way… you can grow your current leadership skills and increase your influence. Identify a clear vision and purpose, understand the power of your influence and empower people for greatness. With positive leadership and influence you can help make this world a much better place.