” The best of leaders when the job is done, when the task is accomplished, the people will say we have done it ourselves ”
— Lao Tzu
Having spent my professional life dabbling in various industries for nearly a decade, I have encountered different views and types of leadership in the professional sphere. Though there are still many who view leaders as strictly those with titles (i.e: managers, directors, presidents etc.) aka “the boss”, through my own experiences, I’ve come to realize that no matter the industry or field, one’s title is far from what makes him or her a true leader.
With that said, it’s certainly understandable that the image which usually comes in mind when one mentions the word “leader” is something along the line of someone who is in command leading their troops into battle, standing in front of a crowd, rallying and/or inspiring them to action. After all, this image of what a leader should look like and act has been imprinted in our minds, consciously or not, by the media and have been accepted as the norm by society at large.
Nevertheless, I find this conventional image of leaders can be misleading at times. This is because the biggest difference I noticed between a true leader as opposed to one who is merely a boss is that real leaders, despite being in a formal position of power or not, have an uncanny ability to lead others from behind. What this essentially means is true leaders recognize that each member of their team, regardless of their position, bring forth value to the table and do their best to empower them to step up to the plate and to encourage them to progress and grow.
Whilst many great leaders I’ve had the pleasure of working were those of whom are those with the grand titles, there were many of those whom i worked with that did not. The common trait that they all had in common is that they appear to clearly comprehended that one gains loyalty, support and respect of their peers by showing loyalty, support and respect to their peers first. As a result, they have much authority and tremendous influence over their peers because everyone have come to respect their thoughts and ideas. More importantly, they do not see the value in leading by striking fear or to make anyone feel inferior in order to get things done or achieve the overall goals and objectives. They understand that one ceases to be a leader when he or her manipulate with egos and their own hidden agendas. Instead, they opt to lead by example and to choose to inspire others through their actions rather than merely words – in other words, they walk the talk. These great men and women treat each of his or her team members’ accomplishments as a point of pride rather than to hog the spotlight, and recognizes that the mark of a great leader isn’t creating followers – but instead developing others and inspiring them to become leaders themselves.
With or without titles, if you strive to become a true leader whether it is professionally, personally or even within your community and beyond, don’t do it for the power or applause but rather, choose be ready and willing to lend a helping hand to those who needs them as well as to offer insights to others in a way that is constructive and allow them to see their own greatness.
As one of the greatest leaders of all time, Abraham Lincoln, said “Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition”. When your actions consistently inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, regardless of titles, you are a true leader, one that is certainly worthy of much respect and accolades.