I was at a workshop for educators and we were in a small group setting with the task of writing down what our goal was for our students in our classroom. I shared that one of my objectives as a teacher is to help each of my students be a leader. Someone responded to my statement by saying that not every student can be a leader…
John Quincy Adams is credited with saying, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”
Every person can be a leader. No, not everyone can be in charge and make the ultimate decision, but that does not stop each person from being a leader according to Adams’s definition.
Can a private in the armed forces be a leader? Absolutely! He can follow orders from his commander, do his job to the best of his ability, and encourage his fellow soldiers to do the same.
Can a student be a leader in the classroom? Without a doubt! She can follow instructions from her teacher, learn as much as she can, and encourage her fellow classmates to do the same.
Can a player on a team be a leader in the locker room and on the court? Definitely! He can follow instructions from his coach, improve his skills as much as he can, and encourage his fellow players to do the same.
Did you notice that John Quincy Adams did not say, “If you TELL others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” He said, “If YOUR ACTIONS INSPIRE OTHERS to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”
As a coach, I have had players who always do the right thing. They are always on time, they always work hard, and they are good teammates. Sometimes I would encourage them to be more of a vocal leader if they were someone who did not naturally say a lot, especially during a practice or a game. What I have realized is that those players did not need to say a thing. Their actions were sufficient to show their leadership.
At the same time, I have had players who like to tell others what to do, criticize them when they make a mistake, and blame others when things don’t go their way. Yet they had a hard time proving their leadership through their actions. While in certain situations we may follow people like this out of fear or necessity, we do not really consider them a leader.
I am currently reading The Leader Who Had No Title by Robin Sharma that touches on this very concept. Leadership does not come from your position, your title, your status, your college degrees, your money, or your physical power. Leadership is about your character and your actions when times are good and when times are bad.
The leaders who have had an impact on me rarely told me what to do, but rather showed me what to do by how they lived their life. Can a leader inspire you with their words? Absolutely! But those words are hollow unless they are backed up by actions of integrity.
No matter what your role or your position in anything you do, you can be a leader by doing your job to the best of your ability and living a life worth following. Yes everyone can be a leader!
So the only question you need to ask yourself is, “Are you a leader?”
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