Though varying in scale, every human being has got some sphere of influence; be it the husband over his household, the mother over her child(ren), the teacher in the classroom or the older sibling over the younger ones. These categories of people all have something in common: they are leaders.
The terms Leadership or Leader can be quite ambiguous in themselves and without getting too technical or intellectual, I would define a leader as one who leads.
To lead is an action word (there is no leadership without an action). One of the dictionary definitions of the word lead is a “route or means of access to a particular place or in a particular direction”.
If you randomly take a sample of people and pose the question: do you consider yourself a leader? Most responses would probably be ‘not really’, ‘I don’t think so’, etc. These types of responses are due to the fact that leadership is often associated with obvious accomplishments like running multi-million dollar organisations, political achievements, church or business leadership, etc. While these are all aspects of leadership, they in themselves do not define the entirety of what leadership is or who a leader is.
You lead when you create a means of access for someone else to get to their destination.
If you have the capacity to influence someone else other than yourself towards a particular direction, you are leading. So the question isn’t really if you consider yourself a leader, but more appropriately: are you developing the leader within yourself?
There is leadership potential in everyone because we were created to take charge; some people discover and develop that potential and maximise it, excelling in their endeavours. Some discover and don’t develop and become half-baked and others never even discover that potential. They end up living ignorant unfulfilled lives, accepting everything thrown at them.
You might be wondering who then is following if everyone is leading? Leading or being a leader does not mean you stop following. As mentioned earlier, you lead your sphere of influence and that can be small or as large. At the same time, you yourself belong to someone else’s sphere of influence, being led. Take the example of the older sibling for example: he/she influences his/her sibling(s), while he/she gets influenced by parents, teachers and/or friends. Everyone is leading someone, and everyone has someone they follow.
Leadership however comes with responsibilities—the responsibility of service.
One way to discover your leadership potential is to serve others. In serving, you simultaneously meet a need and discover or fulfil a purpose. As my pastor once said, “if serving is beneath you, then leadership is above you”. I would add that the height of one’s influence is determined by the depth of their service. The more you serve in an area, the more you discover if that area is a place for you. If not, you have a chance to move on to something else and when you find an area for you, you can them grow and develop there, building depth.
You may not be a CEO, a Minister nor occupy a prominent position but you have a circle of influence and that makes you a leader.