Leadership and Power: Two Ways to Lead Without a Position
Leaders lead. Period.
No position of authority required.
Examples of great leadership can be found well outside of the limelight. Faux-leaders are often (but not always) in places of great visibility. Genuine leaders are often (but not always) in quiet, position-less places, leading with subversion from the back of the room.
I used to think a position of authority was necessary for influence.
I was wrong.
I was confusing power for influence. Holding a position of power - whether you're a pastor or a president - doesn't automatically equate to leadership.
Power is using influence to control. Leadership is using influence to empower. The difference is monumental.
Are you interested in leadership? Good. Start leading. But don't lead by trying to leverage yourself for a position of power, thinking that's what you must do to lead well. It's easy to talk ourselves into this sort mindset. I've seen it happen a lot over the years. This methodology will not end well, neither for you or for those we lead.
Instead, start here:
I have these words prominently displayed in my office. It's the top of my daily to-do list. If I can't keep myself in a place of disciplined rest and increased emotional maturity, it will be difficult to be an effective leader. Leaders must first lead themselves, and that never requires a position of leadership. It requires the self-awareness and emotional intelligence to care for my own body, mind, and spirit.
Stay out of the whirlwind that threatens to suck you in, whether it's work, family, or personal - lead yourself. That's where it starts.
Lead others (by giving away power).
This is counterintuitive. We tend toward grabbing power. Keeping it for ourselves and using it for our benefit. Perhaps we think this to be especially true of leadership. We see examples of this from people we may consider to be (like, very) smart leaders all around us.
Power and manipulation is not leadership.
Service and empowerment is. When leaders lead by giving away power the benefit multiplies.
Lead yourself. Empower others.
We don't need positions of authority to do this. It's possible to begin the real practice of leadership today.