When I first started to write this blog, I was planning to look up definitions of leadership that sounded formal, correct and by the book. I quickly realized I enjoy writing so much more when it comes from my heart and is authentic based on my lived experiences!
We see leadership in the world in so many ways, every single day. Sometimes it is recognized and praised, other times it is quiet and behind the scenes. Traditionally, we may think of leadership as someone standing at the front of the room, stating team objectives for instance and a plan to move towards them to achieve success. We may think of bosses at work who lead units of employees to a common end goal, or captains of sports teams who set the bar high for team cohesion and work ethic. These are definite examples of leadership! However, it is so important to consider the many forms of leadership that are not from positions with a title, they are little acts that one may choose to do every day, whether others outwardly recognize them or not.
We see leadership in the world in so many ways, every single day.
Moreover, leadership is not always from the front of the room! My favourite concept of a leader is someone who is so connected to their core values and leads by example, through holding space for others to move into their own greatness. Often times, this looks like leading from beside, rather than in front. It is leadership because it is not telling someone else what to do or how to do it, but rather opening up the space for conversation, questions, self-inquiry and improvement. Instead of thinking of leadership as a top down approach, where someone has all the power and it trickles down, we can think of leadership as a partnership.
Some examples of this may be a basketball player leading by example, after getting a foul that they don’t agree with, holding his/her composure and setting an example for their teammates. Or it may look like a supervisor at work creating an environment where self-reflection is encouraged & mistakes are acknowledged as an opportunity to learn. Leadership isn’t only someone who sets the rules and oversees the goals through to completion, it is also someone who motivates their peers to live in their own power by acting in line with their beliefs, their integrity and their responsibility. Leadership is providing the encouragement for another to step back from their actions, assess their goals and then re-align so they can increase their opportunities for success, however they choose to personally define it!
I’ve decided to provide an example of an anonymous leader, and I had trouble picking just one because I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by so many! I immediately thought of my best friend and I will share a bit about her. Before I knew her, she was involved with the wrong crowd, and became addicted to drugs and alcohol. She describes this time in her life as empty, because she had no passion inside her and no direction in her life that she felt connected to. It wasn’t until she hit rock bottom that she decided to ask for help, and went to a rehab centre. Through her recovery she has transformed and is now a passionate personal trainer on a mission to help others fall in love with exercise, not just to improve how they look but to help them increase their confidence! She has created an amazing circle of friends, joined a dance team and only surrounds herself with people who support her. She is a leader because she lives every day committed to staying sober, and leading by example, she holds space for her clients, and her friends to live in their own personal power. She actively encourages me to reflect on the “why” behind my thoughts and my actions, and recognize when I am letting fear dictate my choices rather than love. She isn’t afraid to challenge me when she believes I am acting out of alignment with my goals and I appreciate her support because I know it always comes from her heart.
Leaders are all around us. They are found in our friends, family members, teammates, coaches, teachers, and even strangers we pass on the streets. There are many ways to define a leader, some more recognized in society than others, but that doesn’t take the power away from silent leaders among us.
We at Beyond the Game invite you now to reflect on who is a leader in your life. How do they lead? How has their leadership positively affected you? Last but not least, how can you choose to be a leader every single day of your life?
By Ashley Noonan