I was driving in my car the other day and I was listening to the TED Radio Hour.  The subject of that day’s broadcast was Everyday Leadership.

As I was listening I was harkened back to a time right after 9/11 where the company I was working for had an enterprise initiative with the tagline One Firm. One Team. Be a Leader.  An initiative, my former colleagues who are reading this, will likely remember.

Our objective was to encourage all employees to act as leaders, specifically to take the initiative to deliver the full breadth and depth of capabilities our company had to offer both externally to our customers and internally to each other.

In our employee engagement sessions we drew upon and shared examples of true leaders – who, not because of their titles, salary grade or self-importance, took the initiative to help or lead others, some during one of our countries most tragic and horrific moments.

Were these everyday people doing everyday things?

No – they were self-appointed leaders who stepped up during an extraordinary time in service of something bigger than themselves.

But what holds true today and everyday – is that anyone can be a leader.   It’s just that most of us look to others because we lack the confidence and/or we would just rather … have someone else do it.

So the next time…

  • You see someone struggling with a challenge BE A LEADER
  • One of your colleagues disagrees with your opinion or how you see things BE A LEADER
  • You hear one person telling another “things will never change” BE A LEADER
  • You see someone do something unkind or unethical BE A LEADER
  • Someone you know is having a bad day, week or month BE A LEADER
  • When someone says “we can’t” “they won’t let us” “we shouldn’t” BE A LEADER
  • You feel uninspired, frustrated, underappreciated BE A LEADER

I am writing this just as much for myself as for anyone else who may forget that LEADERS aren’t special … they just seize opportunities that many of us overlook or oftentimes choose to ignore.