Everyday leadership and why everyone is a leader

Leadership is something we get to live and experience everyday. Here’s my belief- regardless of our role, title or whatever we do, we are all leaders in our own right. We get to be a leader through the simplest of things. It could be solving problems, making decisions, teaching others something. Anything we do that can make a positive difference to others and our environment establishes our identity as a leader

I also believe that we get to tap into our leadership abilities everyday, especially in scenarios where we find ourselves out of our comfort zone or when things are unsettled. A good example is the pandemic that we are currently in. Most of us are facing unprecedented situations, personally or professionally. How well we navigate through this phase, individually or as a group comes down to the leadership that we demonstrate. Through making a difference in our environment everyday, we get to be a leader.

This article looks at 3 everyday practices that make you a better leader.

1. Be a great listener:

I have known and worked with people who are great listeners. They hear the other person out, without interrupting, without judging, by being fully present to the conversation. I must say, conversations with such people are fantastic! When you are trying to say something, and the other person hears you out, you feel heard. You feel valued. They may not always agree with you, but at least you get to express your thoughts.

I believe listening is a skill that requires zero talent. All it requires is the willingness to be present for the other person, and that goes a long way in building trust and rapport with them. You build stronger, more functional relationships with people. People find you approachable.  Not just that, you learn more, about your situation and about other people. And that enables you to make well informed decisions as well as become a key person of influence.

When you a great listener, you don’t just communicate. You connect with others, which has a greater impact in your everyday interactions.

2. Lift people around you:

There are moments when we may doubt ourselves or be hard on ourselves. Having someone remind us of what we’re capable of, and that we’ve got this can go a long way in restoring and building our confidence, and empower us to keep going. Lifting people up can involve several things- cheering or encouragement, a pat on the back, a simple reminder of what they are capable of, coaching or mentoring someone, giving someone an opportunity to step up. Encouraging people to give it a go, rather than worrying about getting it wrong.

The current pandemic has caused immense disruption in our lives. More people are under stress lately due to the impacts of those disruptions. Chances are, it could be someone you know or work with. In such times, this can be an opportunity to inspire confidence of people around you. By making an effort to make them feel better about themselves, you establish yourself as an exceptional, compassionate leader. And here’s the thing- the impacts of your kindness, compassion and leadership would go well beyond the pandemic, in many more ways than you can imagine.

3. Appreciating others:

One key practice I’ve followed all through my career is- give credit where it is due. Not just for the big things, but also the smallest of things. It is said that a person who is appreciated does more than what is expected. And that is what leadership is all about-helping others do their best. When we appreciate others, and give them the credit for their efforts and hard work, it motivates them to do more and keep up their efforts.

When you appreciate someone, it’s basically telling them- “I value your efforts, your efforts matter to me.” Sometimes people struggle to give it their best effort, not because they can’t, but because they aren’t sure if their efforts matter, and if they would even be noticed. Not everyone does their work for applause or appreciation. However, it’s true that when you give credit to others, it can bring a spring in their step, knowing that their efforts are noticed and appreciated. And here’s the thing about appreciation- anyone can do it, in any context. Team members appreciating each other, leaders appreciating their team members, parents appreciating their kids, people appreciating their spouse, or family members. It can be for the simplest of things, but it can make someone’s day.

To summarise…

Rather than a role or a responsibility, I believe leadership is a choice, that is accessible to everyone. In exercising that choice and living it everyday, you have the ability to make a positive difference to your environment and the people around you. 

How do these practices resonate with you? How consistently do you follow these?