Leadership comes in all forms and levels. My dear friend Erin Schreyer just released a great video about leading. It is a brilliant message about leading from where you are. Skip the titles. Forget the plaque on your office door…or if you even have an office or not. To lead is something we all can do in some capacity or another. I love that about Erin and I couldn’t agree more.

Often times people hear this and are excited and motivated to move on some passion or interest in their lives. Equally as often, people hit brick walls, make mistakes and fall flat on their face. Even folks who have been doing leadership for awhile still struggle with having confidence in their leadership when they crash and burn. It sucks, it hurts, it gives us an opportunity to learn and it’s happened to all of us at one point or another.

I have been thinking about what is common to leadership regardless of industry, expression or level. Whether you’re a CEO or you’re a single parent who volunteers in your community to create a better future for your kids, what is it that can be some guiding principles that will minimize the frequency of your going down in flames moments? Something true for all of us leading.

I don’t know if it was the double anchovy and peanut butter pizza I had before bed one night, but I woke up around 3 a.m. with an entirely new perspective of the word “LEAD”. Maybe I was dreaming or simply wasn’t doing a very good job switching off from work that day, but each letter of this word became painfully clear to me. So, I thought I would share my pre-dawn musings to inspire and challenge all of us to LEAD well no matter our station.

Here are four keys to keep your leadership moving forward:

  • Leverage – There will come a time in everyone’s leadership journey where what you need and what you have are only connected by a gap. This isn’t always a sign that it “wasn’t meant to be”. Often times it is a great opportunity to leverage what you do have and put faith in others. Communicate where the problems are and ask for suggestions or ideas. You will consistently be amazed by the creativity of your team or those you’re leading. Human beings are insanely resourceful and our collective knowledge and creativity are what strengthen us.
  • Expeditionary – When we’re leading, we are seeing beyond right now and imagining our vision of the future becoming reality. We MUST treat things as if we are going on an expedition. It doesn’t always have to be this way, but leadership sometimes mean going off the beaten path and blazing your own trail. Don’t be afraid of playing the role of a scout occasionally. Some of the best ideas come from the strangest places. If you never put yourself in those strange places, you’re cheating the possibilities.
  • Acquisition – Leadership isn’t done in a vacuum, so we need to acquire the help of others. Not as a means to consume and use people, but to give them an opportunity to authentically express who they are. We’re not acquiring people, we’re acquiring the opportunity for them to express their talents and gifts. Who doesn’t love doing what they are good at doing? The best teams and groups have a variety of folks living out their natural talents in a way that serves the objectives of the team. What a great thing to do as a leader!
  • Disbursement – Spread it around. It doesn’t have to be anything in particular, just make sure it builds up those on the team more than it builds you up as a leader. Maybe you need to disburse some encouragement. Perhaps you should spread around a bit of praise and hand out a few atta boys/girls. Recognition is powerful and people just want to be appreciated. You’ll find new and creative things to disburse to those you’re leading, but make sure you don’t stop!
  • Hey William,
    I like the exploratory, improvisational nature of Expeditionary. In these times where resources are scarce, this key can lead to not only great solutions, but fun.

    Like the keys. They unlock a big can of “DOING.” Good stuff.

    Shawn

  • Thanks Shawn. That entrepreneurial bent that causes us to wander works great in leadership. Love the “big can of DOING”!