If I walked into a gathering of women and asked each woman, “Are you a leader?” How do you think they would respond?
I believe a few women would say “yes” and give me an example of their leadership roles.
A few more would pause, think briefly, and say, “I am not sure. Give me an example.”
The majority of women in the group would likely answer with an emphatic “no!”
Why do so many women fail to see themselves as leaders? One of the main reasons is a faulty definition and understanding of what it means to “lead.”
How Do You Define leadership?
We often define a leader as someone who has authority or control over us, like a manager or boss, or one who directs an organization like a company president or a pastor. In this traditional definition, leadership is assigned to a position.
John Maxwell, the well-known leadership speaker and author, broadens the definition of leadership. He believes that:
“Leadership is a choice you make rather than a place you sit. In other words, leadership comes from influence and not from your position. Even when you’re not in front, you’re still leading those around you.”
Leading Through Influence
Leadership is influence. It’s how you impact the character, development, and behavior of those around you.
Doesn’t that definition describe about every woman you know? Whether you are partnering with your husbands, directing children, managing businesses, or hanging out with friends, you are leading those around you through your influence.
And, your ability to influence extends even further.
Imagine a raindrop hitting a pond. Water is displaced at the point of impact and perfect waves ripple outward into the pond. Your influence has the same impact. Your actions not only impact your immediate relationships, like your family and co-workers, but they ripple outward from you as your relationships influence those around them.
A family is a perfect example. The attitude of a mother and wife can easily influence her family depending upon how she acts. If her children feel loved and secure, they extend love to other family and friends, creating a positive ripple effect that began with her. Through behavior and influence, we are leading our children.
In my own life, I have become increasingly aware of how I influence others. For example, when I have a lousy attitude at home or work, that attitude may negatively affect anyone near me. It’s like Linus (Snoopy) and his dust cloud. That lousy attitude follows me like a cloud of dust, and it can easily spread outward!
When I am leading through influence, I acknowledge the influence I carry and I choose to lead through a positive attitude. I choose to capture my lousy thoughts, pitch them, and change my attitude by God’s grace! When we think of leadership, attitude may seem small and unimportant, but sometimes it’s the small things that have the greatest influence (that raindrop!!).
Does this definition of leadership resonate with you? Leadership as a choice and not as a position may require that we change our perspective and acknowledge that we are all leaders. I would love to hear how and where you lead in your own life.