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Who is the leader, anyway?

Leaders. Who are they? The boss who signs the pay checks, the suit wearing person who gives instructions to us every day, or the janitor who cleans up after we all leave the office for the day? Who exactly is the leader? While leading a training this week, I heard the story of a group of top executives from a Fortune 500 company who were trying to solve a major problem that was costing the company tons of money. While the discussion was getting nowhere, the janitor came in to remove the trash can. The janitor had been with the company for more than 20 years and just chuckled when he heard the list of solutions that the top executives were discussing. When one of the top executives asked the janitor why he was laughing, he replied with a simple solution to the problem. The janitor had the solution to the complex problem and the executives implemented his idea and resolved the problem. So, who is the leader?

By definition, the term leadership includes the idea of influence. Influence is something that each one of us carries. Because we influence each other, we are leaders….like it or not. Of course, not all influence is created equal so not all leaders are the same. Some of us use our influence to engage in positive relationships with others, while some of us use our influence in negative ways. Still yet, some of us do not pay any attention to our influence on others.

Everywhere we look these days, there is a need for better leadership. Leaders from around the world have been caught in a cycle of unethical and ineffective leadership. Author Bill George (2003) writes, “We need new leadership. We need authentic leaders, people of the highest integrity, committed to building enduring organizations” (pg. 5). He further describes authentic leaders as leaders who demonstrate a passion for purpose, consistently practice their own values, and lead with their hearts as well as their heads. These leaders are people who are able to establish meaningful relationships with others that last a long time. In short, authentic leaders are leaders who know themselves very well.

If we are all leaders and there is a need for better leadership, then you and I have some work to do to develop the leadership skills that exist within us. We can no longer blame the “leader” for all the problems that exist in our organizations, our families, and our communities. We are the leaders! We are responsible for finding solutions, creating opportunities for others, and helping others grow personally and professionally.

To answer the question who is a leader? You are. I am. We all are. Let’s not waste one more day without working on developing our leadership skills. It is our responsibility.

The following tips will help you develop as a leader:

· Develop your sense of self-awareness

· Find out your life’s passion

· Listen to others

Baggerly-Hinojosa (2010). Are You a 10? The Ten Characteristics of a Servant Leader. USA: Lulu.

George, B. (2003). Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value. USA