Is Leadership optional?

churchill, lincoln, kingIf you are a parent, is leadership optional?  Of course not.  If you are a sales person, manager, or senior member at work, can you choose to not be a leader?  If you are a cub scout, a big sister, a bank teller, a rotary club member, a professional ball player or anything else, you really have no choice – you are a leader.  Somebody is watching you and basing their decisions about their work or their life on what they see you do.  That defines you as a leader.

Leadership is not optional.  You can only decide whether to be a good leader or a poor one.  If you are a good leader, you will inspire many people to become better and do good things by emulating your actions.  If you are a poor leader most people will scoff, deride, or ignore you but some unfortunate souls will follow your example.  Even pirates have followers.  If you are a lazy evil hermit, somebody will find out and choose that same path because of you.

The key idea here is that most of us discount the effect and reach of our leadership.  We think our actions and words don’t matter so we’re cavalier about them.  We shoot our mouths off, cut corners, and take selfish privileges.  We think they don’t matter – but they do.

This Allen Iverson clip, former nba player, tells us that he doesn’t understand the effect of his poor leadership.

You see, people are watching us.  We are leaders.  Hey Allen: have you learned that yet?

I put a picture of Churchill, Lincoln, and ML King on this post to represent good leaders.  What would we think if honest Abe stole a few reams of paper from the office?  What if Churchill didn’t keep his commitment and went home early – before the war was over?  How would we view Dr. King if he gained power only to become one of the oppressors that he preached against?  We’ve all seen our share of paper thieves, commitment breakers, and oppressors by former coworkers.  We know what we think of them.

But what about you? What actions are you taking that send an unintended message?  Are you keeping your commitments?  Are you putting in a day’s work for a day’s pay?  Are you playing for the team or just playing for yourself?  Are you treating people as a means to an end or the end of the means?

I, Bob Ramsey, am asking you to hold yourself to very high standards.  Be the highest integrity person that you can imagine.  Be the very best worker that you can be.  Keep your commitments.  Never lie or break your word.  Treat every other human being with the greatest of respect even when they don’t deserve it.  Even if everyone around you is doing the wrong thing – do the right thing.  No matter what the cost.  This is the first step in being a good leader.

Because in one sense, you are Churchill, you are Lincoln, you are King.  And the world is watching.  Are you going to practice?

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