- lead verb 1 show the way by going first;
- leader noun 1 someone who leads or goes first;
In my last blog I discussed that first step away from the pack. This first step separates you from the pack, makes you uncommon, possibly makes you “uncool” but it gives you an identity different from anyone else. There will always be people that are smarter, bigger, faster, “cooler”, or funnier that you. Those people may just be content to fit in, go along to get along but if want to be a leader the only thing you need most is courage. Many people have the talent and skill to be exceptional, special or great but most don’t have the courage to use those skills to be exceptional, special, or great. Leadership is not a team, job, event, place or group. It doesn’t end with you winning a game, or turning 18, or graduating college. Becoming a leader doesn’t start when you apply for a position or play a sport. Certain accomplishments may get you noticed or selected for a position but that’s only because people recognize leadership traits in you, they believe in you…sometimes before you believe in yourself. It’s easy to stay on your block or in your neighborhood and be average, but to be a leader you must possess the courage to act. Being a leader starts when your decisions and actions are exceptional, special or great.
Your abilities don’t make you a leader, what determines your role as a leader is what you do with those abilities.
I feel a leader is a role that comes from a collection of traits. It’s your posture, the way you shake hands, the way you form your sentences, the way you tell a story or the way you command attention. Being a leader is exemplified in your actions, if you speak your mind, if you take a stand on an issue, if you fight for what’s right when everyone else is silent. Molding your leadership traits take courage to fight alone, to believe in something that you know is right and do something about it. The process of you becoming a leader has already begun, whether you step in the role or not, the chance will present itself when you’re ready. You will have to recognize that your moment when it occurs.
I went to see the movie, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”. It’s the second movie of a three part series. In the first movie, Katniss Everdeen, the main character, volunteered to save her sister, Primrose, who had been originally selected for the games. Primrose would have most likely died in the games so Katniss believed she could sacrifice herself in the games to save their family. Her stepping forward immediately separated her from the pack. She expected to lose and die in the games but she used her basic skills to survive and eventually win the games. Surviving and winning the games made her the leader of her sector. It wasn’t her winning the games but her actions, her defiance of a tyrant made her a leader. Her actions made her someone the people would follow.
Leadership usually comes from a noble place. Katniss sacrificed herself to save her family and in the meantime she had become the hope of her people by winning the games. In this second movie, “Catching Fire” she had become a symbol of hope for her entire district.
When I was nominated for the Vice Chairman position, I didn’t see myself as this national leader, I still don’t but my peers did. I remember when it happened, it was 2006 at a delegates conference. I had got into a heated argument with a person on the executive board. During this argument, I publically challenged him and I didn’t back down. I knew then, that I was right regardless of what the perception was. From then on people recognized me as a person that spoke his mind and didn’t align with the status quo. Some people admire this trait, some people are intimidated by it. I know I have a responsibility to the delegation that I represent. Did I ever predict me being in this position? No. Throughout my life I’ve witness and inherited strong qualities from leaders that have mentored me. Those qualities or traits help me with the responsibility that I now possess. Does that make me a leader? Yes and I’m still trying to get better at it, still trying to do what’s right for the entire organization.
At my current job there’s a “Successories” poster that shows an eagle flying alone. It reads,
“Leaders are like Eagles, they don’t flock, you find them one at a time.”