When I think about leaders, I think almost immediately about the cause they are associated with. I can’t think of George Washington without thinking about the origins of our country, or Susan B Anthony without thinking about women’s suffrage, or Martin Luther King Jr. without thinking about racial equality. No leader exists in a vacuum.
Every great leader takes on something bigger than him or her self. The vision and impact of a great leader stretches outward.
Regardless of the arena in which a leader operates this is common to all leaders. The best business leaders share this with the best political and social leaders who share this with the best high school teachers, coaches, and parents. All leaders reach outwards.
There are people who do great things all for themselves of course. We call those people dictators and while the consequences of their actions can certainly be far reaching, they do not leave an impact in people’s hearts and minds the way a leader does. Hitler hardly inspires the same response that Gandhi does yet both shaped the 20th century in significant ways.
Not all leaders focus outward in the same way. We do not all lead movements. We do not all run businesses. We do not all hold teaching or coaching positions. But we all influence those around us in some way, and as it has been said, leadership is as simple as influence.
Each of us leads when we strive to be the best self we can. We lead when we take a moment to lend a helping hand. We lead when we treat others with respect. Leading is something we do every day.
What drives your leadership? How do you see the world? What is your vision? Whose lives do you improve? What mark will you leave behind?
Whatever the answer is, keep it in the front of your mind and let it guide you. You will find yourself on the path of leadership.