If leading is really about influencing others, then we all lead, whether incidentally or intentionally, all of the time. Everything we do influences someone. And given what we are learning from neuroscience about things like mirror neurons, it is clear that our influence on others is everywhere. It’s actually a bit scary when you consider all the possible ramifications.
Now, while we all lead in a broad, incidental sense, some of us are put in positions where we are expected to lead intentionally and be an example. This means we must make intentional choices on what influence we want to make. For example, if I am the captain of a sports team and I want my teammates to play at their best and stay positive, I must make conscious, intentional choices on how I influence my team to perform. Put simply, I need to be what I want them to be.
If you have kids, this should really hit home. Kids will do what you do long before they do what you say. So, as a parent (leader), you must be constantly on your toes to be a good example, or before you know it, one of your progeny is blurting out a curse word in church or some other inappropriate venue.
This same thing is true at work. If you are the authority figure, what I call the titled leader, all eyes are on you. What you say and do gives your employees a ticket to say and do. If you’re late for work, you just gave your team a ticket to be late. If you look sloppy, your team can too. If you’re mean, guess what, your team will be mean as well.
So here’s the big question, what are you intentionally influencing? Good things or bad things? Are you inspiring excellence or mediocrity? Brutal truth: If your team is under-performing, before you look at them, look in the mirror.
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