Leadership isn’t about any one person

Over the last few weeks, a series of events in multiple areas of my life made me cherish the significance of good leadership.

If you had asked me just a couple of weeks ago what great leadership was, I would have talked about loyalty, responsibility, and leadership by example. I would have mentioned how it was essential to be a role model, offer inspiration, and possess many other character-defining traits. While my past self no doubt would have mentioned a lot of things that spring from leadership, he would have failed to explain from where leadership itself springs.

So, what changed between then and now? What was my wake-up call or my perspective changer? It wasn’t any near-death experience or significant event in my life. It was merely a friend who explained that I didn’t always have to climb every mountain, at least not by myself; sometimes it’s okay to walk around them or ask for help. And that was my game changer: from simple advice given over a burger with fries, I realized that I had entirely misunderstood leadership.

Previously, in my view, leadership had always involved a (single) leader; it was about someone being stronger than the rest and doing more than others. But in reality, leadership isn’t about any one person. At its very core, it’s between and about people, and not just in one direction. Leadership is equally as much about juniors as it is about seniors, or leaders by title. In my opinion, leadership stems from teamwork.

To me, it’s about goals and mutual understandings. Once leaders make sure the goals are shared and understood throughout their teams, only then can they take responsibility and ownership. If the limitations, or boundaries, in which they are allowed to operate and make decisions aren’t clear, then decisions can never be made. The teams ultimately become reliant on their leaders to make decisions for them, significantly limiting the performance of not just the team, but everyone else involved.

This is why I think leadership is so important. It drives teams, organizations and, most importantly, people. It doesn’t mean that people are inherently lazy and need a leader. It just means that for any group of people to advance, they need a culture of leadership that stems from a shared understanding of strategy and goals. Such a culture is never the responsibility of just one person; it’s the responsibility of everyone involved to step up and be the best they can, and for each to be a role model, offer inspiration, and possess lots of other character-defining traits.

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