Unlikely leadership

I was at a leadership conference this weekend and had the privilege of being asked to be on the Q&A panel.

It wasn’t until I got there that I caught myself wondering – what am I doing here? Who am I to be on this panel? The other panelists were leading churches and charities. They have teams of people who are answerable to them. Who do I lead? What qualifies me to to answer these questions?

Thankfully, one of the speakers shared this quote, which reminded me:

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

That’s good enough for me. I don’t lead a team of people as such, but my work is all about inspiring others to lead themselves and others well, which meant I could answer all the questions from my own authentic perspective.

How often do we forget that leadership is an act, not a status?

How often do we find ourselves in situations beyond our direct control, situations where we don’t have authority, status or power, where we’re don’t necessarily identify ourselves as a ‘leader’ and yet we can lead anyway?

  • We can lead in the words we choose to speak
  • We can lead in the energy and the attitude we take into a room
  • We can lead in the vision we cast, even when we’re not stood at the front of the room
  • We can stand up for what we believe in, or follow the crowd
  • We can lead by example, by the tone or standard we set
  • We lead when we show up instead of shrinking back
  • We lead when we give freely and fully, instead of waiting for permission
  • We lead in how we choose to respond to every situation, whether we are ‘the leader’ or not.

What would it look like to take a lead in that meeting with your boss this week, in your relationship with that demanding client, in the tricky conversation at home you know you need to have, or even in the casual chit chat on the playground?

Where could you show up in a way that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more? What are your unlikely territories of leadership this week?

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