A Leader is Someone Who…
How would you finish this statement: A leader is someone who . . .
If we go by what culture tells us, or our professors, bosses, or peers, we probably would begin to recite the stock definitions of a leader. But if we stop for a moment and take a close look at our personal values around how we are contributing human beings, we might discover a much better and truer answer.
In response to last week’s post We Beg to Differ, You Are Too a Leader, our friend Ginger asked us a couple of great questions (on our Facebook page): “Are you a leader if no one follows? Or probably more accurately, are you a leader if you don’t recognize anyone is following?”
She continued to share her thinking around this and also shared a story. She said:
“Here’s the deal . . . if you don’t speak, no one knows who you are at your core. What if your core is a safe space/place for someone in trouble? I heard a story the other day of a woman who was a safe space for a child in her neighborhood. One day the woman was vacuuming and the child wrapped her arms around her leg. Clutching, clinging for that little while a woman vacuuming became the safest space in the world for a desperate child. I’m sure it never crossed the woman’s mind that she is a leader. She told me she just kept on vacuuming and dragging the little girl along. The kindness of that makes me weep.”
Wonderful real-life example! (Thanks, Ginger.)
In my personal leadership paradigm, I believe this woman beautifully led and influenced even as she wasn’t seeking to be a leader. We lead whether we intend to or not, don’t we? Maybe someone is watching or following us.
What do they see? What encouragement, comfort, or safety do they receive?
What then, out of watching or following us, do they believe about themselves and the world?
About God’s love for them?
What do they learn and therefore take into their own behavior toward others?
What kind of leaders do they become?
As I thought about this throughout the week, I kept coming back to love. This woman’s kindness was a safe expression of caring for this precious child. What if being a leader is a lot more straightforward than we make it? What if we are potentially a leader anytime but a great leader simply when we love well?
Even if only partly true, this would encompass many beyond who might typically be identified as a leader. Conversely, many who have considered themselves great leaders, may not be leading well at all.
Below you will find two images that you are invited to download and print. The first one is filled with words all around the idea that a leader is someone who loves well. Print this one to inspire further words and ideas around loving well as a leader. Highlight the words that are particularly meaningful to you.
The second image is blank except for the middle words that need your ideas to complete it. Print this one out (or upload into your favorite app) and create your own central sentence about leadership. Then fill in value words around it that further describe that aspect of leadership. (If you do this, share your image of what you created!)
Here’s to loving others well and to great leading–even when, especially when, we aren’t aware.
(Right click to download either of these images.)
What value words come to your mind as you think about
how you hope to impact others’ lives?