A simple question. With about a million right answers. I’ll start with two from well-known leaders.
For me, and for the purposes of LFWYA, leadership is about identifying how your organisation can make progress and taking proactive steps to move things in that direction. Often this is about clearing away clutter from a situation and getting to the most important central point, working out what the next step should be and then figuring out what to say, how to say it, and to whom, in order to make that next step happen.
Leading from where you are means recognising that you can do this from anywhere in the hierarchy.
It is your knowledge, experience and insight (not your role, or seniority) that determine how likely you are to identify what’s needed.
It is your personal courage, confidence and commitment to the success of your organisation that determine whether you’ll be willing to say what needs to be said to move things in the right direction.
Now, I’ll admit… It is true that “leadership roles” are often given to those who already have knowledge, experience, confidence and commitment. But people who are in such positions often misunderstand something important, or get the emphasis wrong, or fail to stand up and speak difficult or obvious truths.
Wherever you are in your organisation you have a unique perspective on every issue that might come to the table and sometimes that unique perspective will grant you access to a crucial point that others miss. Real leadership is about spotting when this happens and doing something about it.
If you notice something important, or even something obvious, that no-one else is saying, you have an opportunity to lead. Whatever your place in the organisation at that moment try to work out what to say to move things in the right direction.
Then be bold. And say it.