Leadership is not a position, nor a role. It is a choice. Everyone has that choice. And everyone is a leader. In essence, being a leader means to take responsibility for your world, no matter the position or situation you’re in.
Now you might look around you and think: That’s not true. Not everyone around me is a leader. People in my organisation keep pushing away responsibility, and they blame or shame others when something doesn’t work. That’s not leadership. Granted! So why do we take a stand for “Everyone is a Leader” at Choose Leadership?
How Everyone is a Leader
Here’s what it means and what is needed to unleash the leader in everyone. Let me use a metaphor to make my case:
When Michelangelo had created David, a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture, someone allegedly asked him how he had chiselled David from the marble. Instead of talking about techniques and process, it is said that Michelangelo answered:
“I saw David in the marble, and carved away everything that wasn’t him.”
In other words, where others saw a block of marble, Michelangelo had a vision of the statue inside, which was waiting to be released. And the sculpting process was the chipping away of everything that wasn’t David.
Positive Psychology’s wisdom
Raising everyone to a higher level of happiness and effectiveness is one of the tenets of positive psychology. No matter who you are, you are whole, and to reach your full potential you need to let go of some baggage. Society and business put an emphasis on acquiring skills and knowledge and look to the high performers for inspiration. Positive psychology puts equal importance on letting go of thoughts and behaviours which hold back the average person. The outcome benefits everyone. The more they chip away fears and triggers, the more people will take responsibility for their world. The more confident they grow, the more they will create from any moment with intention. And change will become easier.
Adult development is the key to unlocking leadership
We argue that rather than more skills training, most organisations need to focus on unleashing the leaders that slumber in each and everyone of their employees, from the handyman to the CEO. To chip away what holds people back from taking responsibility. To chisel, until people are able to own their reactivity. That enables everyone to respond to any situation from their creative place. Which means constructive, productive collaboration. Clear communication, from a place of integrity.
Don’t get us wrong: You and everyone around you will always be reactive. It’s how your brain tries to protect you. You can neither undo your brain chemistry nor your life experiences, good or bad. But once you’re aware of them, you can work on you having them, rather than them having you.
You will still go into fight, flight or freeze moments when unexpected and uncomfortable things happen in your life. And so will all the reactive people around you. What you can practice is becoming conscious of being triggered. And when you take responsibility for being triggered without it being anyone’s fault, you can recover. Leadership is a choice. It is the choice to recover to your calm self, and to create something of service in every moment.
It’s time that organisations start working on recovering from reactivity to creativity. And this is collective work. It will help everyone to step into their leadership by taking responsibility. Responsibility for their own experience, but ultimately for the organisation’s thriving.