Leadership is everyone’s business.  But is it for me?

Many today think that leadership is the domain of a few, particularly those who hold positions of authority. But being appointed, given a title, or assuming a particular role does not in and of itself constitute leadership. Upon closer inspection, leadership is more about relationships than hierarchical position. In an organization, relational leadership emerges at all levels and in all activities. It does not matter what your position, background or current role is, you are a leader. Consider the following:

All kinds of leaders are needed. Research has shown that no single combination of traits, skills, training or life experiences makes a leader. In fact, a variety of characteristics and backgrounds in the group may help create stronger organizational leadership.

Leadership can be learned. Despite what some say, leaders are not born (well everyone is born but not born to leadership). Leaders develop by observing, studying and practicing. It is a constant and intentional activity. One consistent trait has been observed. Great leaders never stop learning.

You are already in a position of leadership. Whatever situation you find yourselves, you can take responsibility. Leadership may simply be doing the ordinary in extraordinary ways. For that you do not need to wait or to be told. You can do it, now.

What you do matters. You affect those around you. What you do (or don’t do) influence others. In their book, The Truth About Leadership, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner begin on the very first page with this observation, “The truth is that you make a difference. It is not a question of ‘Will I make a difference?’ Rather it is ‘What difference will I make?’” Make no excuses. You are important and your work of consequence. How you answer the question is significant: What difference will you make today?


David S Penner, PhD.  Loma Linda University