One of my favorite non-trend, authentic views of leadership is that true leadership does not automatically come with title on a business card, nor is it tied only to a job description. I love that organizations are investing in employees to teach self leadership and the value it can bring to their organization and experience within the organization.
We can take this a step further. I believe the true magic comes when leadership expands beyond a business card, beyond a job, and even beyond the four walls we find ourselves working in every day. How? Let’s look at a current description of leadership- a process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.
And this task, in my opinion, does not have to have anything to do with my job description or performance appraisal. This task can be to “socially influence” (or in my world, “care”) about others. Leadership can be displayed to those not expecting or who would even describe their experience as one of leadership.
I found my perfect example that has inspired me for more than a month. I can’t get it off of my mind. During a weekend spent in Kansas City I came across an article about a local organization (which is still on my wall hung up by my computer). I was inspired by their take on leadership. Here’s the best thing about this article, the word leadership was never mentioned. That’s magic. Without ever announcing “we’re LEADING!! Look at our LEADERSHIP!”, I was inspired and motivated.
Meers Advertising is a living example of this kind of leadership in action, beyond their four walls. Many organizations do amazing things through their philanthropic giving. However, Sam Meers, president and CEO, took it a step further. He gave his employees a real life opportunity to give in a personal way, to make a difference, to be authentic leaders in their local communities.
On Friday before Thanksgiving, I gave every employee a $50 bill and told each of them that they’d soon be in a grocery line and see someone in front taking items out of their cart because they didn’t have enough money for groceries. I said that’s when you hand them the 50, when you see the mother with three kids at Walmart, in anguish, walk up and give her that 50 and see what it does for them and for you. That’s the spirit of giving.
Leadership. In action. Beyond four walls. The impact of this form of leadership has had an exponential impact, far beyond a job description and literally beyond the four walls of a building. This. This is the ultimate goal of our profession is it not?