The word “Leader” is usually a title given to someone with official leadership responsibilities–that’s unfortunate, because the truth is we are all leaders. We need to lead and influence those “above” us, “across” from us, “down” from us (if that applies) and let’s not forget that it all starts with leading ourselves!
Today I am happy to feature Dan Black, who writes a blog on leadership effectiveness. He has a B.A. in Human Development and has experience as a drug and alcohol rehab Case Manager and as a Behavior Specialist for foster kids:
Which area is the most important when it comes to leading: Leading above, across, down, or self? Knowing the answer to this question is crucial to leading successfully. Each area is important to gain influence in but one is essential. Let’s examine each of these areas:
Leading above- Everyone has the potential to influence their boss. This starts with leading yourself well, solving problems, supporting your boss, and taking on extra responsibility. When your boss and upper leadership see you start doing these things, then your influence with them will rise. This shows your ideas and opinions are worth listening to.
Leading across- We have the ability to influence our peers; this can be people who work in the same department or a different department. If we want to lead our peers it requires building trust, a friendship, and adding value to them. John Maxwell says, “People always move toward someone who increases them and away from anyone who decreases them.”
Leading down- This starts with a title and is maintained with positive influence. People start following you because they have to but they will only continue following because of your positive impact on them and the organization. The best leaders have the ability to empower, guide, value, and stretch their people.
Leading self- A leader needs to be able to lead and manage themselves. This starts with being aware of their temperament, personality, emotions, strengths, and weaknesses, then being able to manage them well. It also takes living a balanced life. It’s important to remember that, “The first and best victory is to conquer self.”~Plato
Having a balance of who we lead is important but there is one area a leader needs to spend the most amount of time leading. This area is self-leadership. Being able to lead yourself is essential when it comes to being an effective and successful leader. The first person you need to be able to lead is yourself and if you can’t lead yourself than you won’t be able to lead others well.
I would love to hear your thoughts, experiences and questions, so please leave your comments!
For more on Dan Black: http://danblackonleadership.info/
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