Can Everyone Be a Leader?

As we watch the news on the elections, it becomes clear.  The issues are complex.  No one approach has all the answers.  Often we look to leadership outside of ourselves to solve our problems.  There is no question that outside expertise is important.   Still, there is another kind of leadership, the kind that exists within you and me.  This kind of leadership may have more power than you think.

So often we see a leader as someone who has authority and control. Actually, leadership may have more to do with our self knowledge and personal integrity than getting others to agree. Then we lead by our example.  Knowing yourself and maintaining your values while staying connected to others is fundamental to our personal health and success at home and at work.  This, I believe, is true leadership. 

Within your contacts every day, someone could be watching you, closely observing your words and actions. Someone could be inspired by what you say and do. When you are aware of that influence and use it wisely, you are being a leader. Here are three tips for exploring this kind of leadership.

Discover Your Hidden Strengths

Each of us has our own unique strengths, challenges to overcome, and gifts to give. Finding your strengths helps you to accept yourself and define your contribution.   Becoming clear about yourself gives you the ability to stand for what you believe even when others are pressuring you.  When you remain calm in the midst of upsetting situations, taking full responsibility for your own emotional well being, you can be an “I” while connected to a “We.”   Being aware of this influence is leadership.

It is especially important to know your character strengths.  Your character brings out your higher aspirations and your enthusiasm in serving others.  You do not need external validation and approval.  Your example is an inspiration to others because it supports life.  To find out more on your character strengths, check out the July Newsletter (

As we look at ourselves, all to often we find ourselves connecting with an outside ideal, or putting ourselves down because of our limitations.  These negative judgments reflect outdated patterns.  As human beings we all basically want to love and be loved, to be free, and to connect.   When challenges surface, it gives us an opportunity to question these patterns and transform them.  When we do so, we gain greater integrity, leading from our higher self.      

Discover Your Relationship Strengths

Much of what we learn about ourselves comes from our relationships with others.  As we discover strengths within ourselves we also see the strengths of others. Our mindset begins to shift towards working for higher ideals.  We begin to respect and listen to others as teachers rather than feel the need to covert them to our views.  Interactions begin to move toward differentiation rather than top down leadership.  In these kinds of situations, everyone can take a leadership role according to their strengths and the requirements of the situation. 

As power and leadership is shared, new solutions emerge.  Synergy develops, and the whole becomes far more than the sum of the parts. Working together creatively, multiple minds have capabilities inherently greater than a single mind.  It builds our resilience. 

Deep Change Comes from You and Me

While we often look to our leaders for change, it is difficult for deep change to come from the top.  Our leaders are often too deeply established in existing institutions to bring about the kind of deep change that is needed.  Big shifts are more likely to come from people like you and me, ordinary people, free from entrenched interests. 

Recognizing this power gives us an opportunity to see problems as they are, find new solutions, and bring them into being.  Many changes are happening in communities throughout the country and around the globe. Watch for the initiatives in your community.  The work you do makes a difference. 

A good example is the increased interest in healthy eating.  Over the last decade, more and more people are choosing to buy food locally. Gardens and farms are increasing in urban areas and the number of farmers markets have doubled. In addition to providing fresh, healthy food, this helps to build the community and boost the local economy.   The result is an environmental and social movement that is transforming our national food system.