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Smart leadership: Where everyone is a leader

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This post is an excerpt from The Next Gen Leader: Cutting Edge Strategies to Make You the leader You Were Born to Be!”  by Robert C. McMillan, a transformationalist and a leadership coach and executive consultant to emerging, aspiring and executive leaders, teams and organizations. McMillan is also a sought-after transformational speaker for organizations, associations and conferences. To learn more about The Next Gen Leader and how you can maximize your leadership potential and the potential of others, visit

What Is Leadership?

To truly understand leadership, let’s break it into small, understandable parts. When you look at the word leadership, what do you see? If you were to ask The Leadership Institute at Harvard University what the word leadership means, they would define it as the skill of motivating, guiding, and empowering a team toward a socially responsible vision. The American Heritage Dictionary defines leadership as 1) The office or position of a leader; 2) Capacity to lead; 3) A group of leaders; 4) Providing guidance and direction. These definitions are very general in nature.

Another way to look at leadership is from the sum of its whole parts. As asked previously, what do you envision when you see the word leadership? There are four distinct words with similar meanings but different impacts that make up the word leadership. The words in leadership are: leadership, leadership, leadership, and leadership.

To understand leadership, we must first break down and define each word separately. Most traditional and institutional universities do not take that into account when defining or explaining this most complicated business term. First, the word lead is defined as: 1) To show the way by going in advance; 2) To direct the performance of activities; 3) To serve as a conduit; 4) To have charge of.

Second, the word leader(s) is defined as: 1) A person who leads or guides; 2) One who is in charge of others; 3) One who has influence or power over others; 4) A person who has commanding authority or influence.

And finally, as defined earlier, leadership is: 1) The office or position of a leader; 2) Capacity to lead; 3) A group of leaders; 4) The act of providing guidance and direction.

Consider the following questions:

  • Do you show others the way?
  • Are you in charge or do you take charge of others?
  • Do you create things (i.e. events, work products, meetings, assignments)?
  • Are you responsible for a task, activity, project or function?
  • Within your being, do you have the capacity to lead?
  • In some shape or form, do you have influence or authority over others?
  • Do people look to you for guidance and direction?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, welcome to leadership. That’s right—you are, by default, a leader. More importantly, you were born with the ability to do all those things noted above. So the answer to the question what is leadership? You are a part of leadership!

Leadership Is 3D

Leadership is three-dimensional, just as you are. There are three parts to humans: the mind, the body, and the soul, all working together to produce one you. That is how leadership works. If you examine closely the four words lead, leader, leaders and leadership, you’ll see that each word is contingent on the other. If you really think about it, leadership is the composite output of the definitions of leadership, leadership, leadership and leadership. Simply put: 1) Leadership is only as good as an organization’s leaders, 2) the leaders of the organization can only be as good as their current leader, and 3) a leader is only as effective as their ability to lead others, beginning with him or herself. So the message is simple: leadership starts with the leader in you! If there is no leader, there are no leaders. If there are no leaders, then leadership does not exist. To maximize leadership potential, one has to be aware that regardless of rank, power, status, or pay, everyone is a leader in some form or fashion.

Leadership Is a Choice

In today’s workforce, there are questions asked every day, such as, “Who wants to be a leader?” Although this may go unsaid and unwritten, this is asked every day by associations, agencies and companies around the world. Why? Because organizations are looking for true leaders at every level to step up into their natural leadership roles. Sometimes that requires volunteering to be leaders.

Followers Transform to Leaders:

More often than not, the leaders you find in the workplace are appointed. It is the appointed leaders who often have responsibility for the issues, challenges, and complexities found in the operation of the business. Those issues, complexities, and challenges exist primarily for two reasons: a lack of leaders and too many followers who watch, wait, and debate before taking action. For example, have you ever witnessed someone respond to a requested action or decision to solving an issue say, “That’s above my pay grade! Leadership is a choice, and there is always the option to volunteer if no one has been appointed.

If you want to transform and become a part of the Organization of Leadership recognize that everyone is born a leader. Understand that leadership is simply the ability to influence action to realize a desired change. The NextGen 6G Leadership Network below is an ecosystem that contains a leadership network for every professional regardless of position, title or rank can connect to and maximize their leadership potential. Take the leadership aptitude assessment and find your rightful place for you, your team or organization on the leadership network and begin to influence change and become the next gen leader you were born to be. The genius leader inside of you will be glad you did.

• 3G – Go-To Leader: People value you because they recognize your leadership results. You are a leader because you have a unique brand and others come to you for leadership because they acknowledge your individual contributions and success; although you may not have direct reports.

• 4G – Growth Leader: People value you because of your consistent achievements in business performance and growth. You are a leader because your actions are recognized as business achievements.

• 5G – Gateway Leader: People value you because you create opportunities and change for others. You are a leader because your actions accelerate business performance and results.

• 6G – Genius Leader: People value you because we respect your leadership agility and ability to influence success. You are a leader because your actions create agility to grow the business, the organization and its people, simultaneously.