Is Everyone a Leader?

When geese fly south for the winter, they fly in the V formation. The geese set the course and when the lead goose tires, it will fall back and another goose will take the lead. An interesting fact is that each goose when they flap their wings, they create an updraft for the goose behind them, making the flight easier for the other geese.  We can learn a lot about the Flying-V formation and can apply some of these principles to our work cultures.

First, let us discuss how geese work as a team. When the lead goose tires, it will fall back and let someone else lead. All too often we think we are not leaders. Leadership doesn’t mean you have to be a CEO or a manager. Too often we think leadership equates to a person in an authoritative and decision-making position.

Leaders are those individuals who have influenced others. The power to influence others is something we all have. Some people lead quietly, they are the doers who seek no recognition and just go about their life helping others, listening, and treating others as they want to be treated. Other leaders are more visible in their organizations and community.

When you think of the traits of a good leader you think things like: Honesty, integrity, confidence, good communicator, inspire others, empowering, creative, committed, passionate, and accountable.

Second, the geese support one another, remember with each flap of their wings they create an updraft to help the goose behind them. Regardless of our position we can work together, lift and support all of our team members.

Leadership starts with:

  • Believing you have something to offer.

Everyone has the power to influence another person positively. In psychology today an article stated that there is a distinct difference between influence and authority. Is everyone a leader? The answer then is, yes, everyone can influence others which means we are all leaders. Healthy influence is earned by credibility and what you bring to a relationship or organization.

  • Dedicate yourself to making a difference.

This is doing the best job you can every day. Your title or position doesn’t matter. You will be remembered if you are doing your best regardless of your task. You can give your all if you are a janitor, dishwasher, manager or CEO. Only you can decide to do your very best every day. This includes being kind to every person you come in contact with.

I once worked at a men’s clothing store, I lived in an area that was known for their oil workers that worked on the rigs. I remember one man came in, just covered in filth, and wanted some new clothes. After serving him (he purchased thousands of dollars) of new clothes he told me that he appreciated the kindness and was prepared to walk out without buying anything because he figured by his appearance he would not be treated with kindness and respect. We are all familiar with the scene from the movie “Pretty Woman” where Julia Roberts was rudely treated by the way she looked and returned to the same store that treated her so poorly and told them “huge mistake, huge… I need to go shopping now.”

Remember, we each have the power to influence another and we start by being kind to everyone.

  • Listening more, talking less

A leader listens and is sensitive to issues that impact others. Leaders are good communicators.

  • Surrounding themselves with people smarter than them.

Good leaders know how to surround themselves with good people with skills and talents that often exceed their own.

  • Humility

A leader lifts and cheers on others, they are more focused on the ‘we’ instead of the ‘me’. Like the geese, it is a leader’s job to create the updraft to help make the job easier for others.

Leadership and power are not the same. Companies have risen and fallen with powerful people. We all need each other, we are interdependent on the skills, talents, and resources of one another. This is achieved by working together, encouraging, and empowering others. To answer the question is everyone a leader? The answer is yes! Everyone has the capacity and opportunity to influence others. What will you do today to influence another?

Cheryl Viola, MBA, Executive Director