All Articles Leadership Management Want more leaders? Catch them in the act

Want more leaders? Catch them in the act

3 min read


You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you …

This isn’t only the rights people are read when they are arrested but a pervasive perspective that arrests the development of could-be leaders and keeps leadership from flourishing broadly and deeply throughout every organization.

Of course, not everyone will or even wants a position of leadership. But that does not mean they cannot or do not want to provide leadership.

You don’t have to be the leader to be a leader. There are opportunities to lead every day, right in front of anyone who has a commitment to make a difference for others or contribute to a shared goal or vision. So why don’t more people demonstrate leadership?

Sometimes it’s because they do not think it is their place. Instead, they think it is not up to them, but rather to the person in charge to say or do what needs to be said or done. Other times, it’s because they are not sure what to do. They might understand leadership as a concept and know it when they see it. But when asked to lead, they might be embarrassed to admit that they don’t really understand how to translate the theory into action. Perhaps it’s because no one ever expected them to lead or helped them to believe they could.

However, the most compelling reason of all not to lead might be the perceived safety of silence and inaction.

You, of course, have the right to remain silent. After all:

  • If you don’t speak up, you don’t have to risk looking foolish or making someone angry.
  • If you don’t step up, you can’t be blamed when things don’t go as planned, and you don’t have to risk failing, especially not so publicly.
  • If you don’t stand up for something beyond the status quo, you don’t have to risk being judged or the discomfort of challenging people who might be the status quo’s most ardent defenders.

Want to create a culture of leadership, not only develop a few great leaders?

Learn to catch people in the act of committing these three fundamental acts of leadership every day.

  1. Speaking up: Saying something that takes courage for them to say, perhaps the thing no one else is willing to say, to make a difference.
  2. Stepping up: Taking action to do what needs to be done or accountability to ensure a result that matters is produced.
  3. Standing up: Declaring commitment to a possibility beyond the status quo and consistently backing up that commitment in word and deed.

The more you openly recognize these simple acts of leadership, the more opportunities people will see for themselves to lead regardless of their position.

Go ahead, catch them in the act and read them their rights. You have the right to speak up, step up and stand up to make a difference. Anything you say or do in the service of our future can and will be greatly appreciated.

Susan Mazza is a certified speaker, coach and consultant for leaders who want to further develop leadership capabilities in themselves as well as throughout their organization. Mazza is co-author of “The Character Based Leader: Instigating a Leadership Revolution One Person at a Time,” available this summer. Visit her blog, Random Acts of Leadership and follow her on Twitter for ideas on how to make leadership simpler and more accessible to everyone through everyday actions.