*I am not paid by any organizations or businesses mentioned in this post.
I enjoy discussing leadership from the perspective of it being a way of life. I remember being taught that leaders were “born, not made.” That seemed to be the motto of everyone I listened to throughout my childhood and teenage years. Then I began to meet people who were of a different mindset. Their mindset was that anyone could learn to be a leader, if they wanted to. It was the idea that leadership contained certain characteristics and actions that could be taught to others. Although the focus of leadership was still on more authoritative, traditional and hierarchical, other styles were gaining popularity (ex. Servant leadership). Seeing other types of leadership enter the picture was a nice change for those who didn’t quite buy into the basic tenets of 20th century of leadership (like me). Soon, the concept expanded even more to different age groups, cultural styles of leadership, and its’ purpose.
Leadership is becoming more and more seen as a way of life that includes social responsibility, justice-seeking initiatives, and community service requirements. Not only does leadership include these things, it has become broader than the work life, which benefits so may people. Leadership is now viewed as characteristics and actions that apply to one’s work life, home life, and time in the community (you decide how broad community is). For the better is a huge change from leadership styles of the past because for the better no longer means to produce a profit. Now don’t get me wrong, in order for businesses to grow and pay employees, they have to turn a profit, but this no longer means “by any means necessary”, and for the better can apply to different areas outside of work.
For the better now means (outside of making profits): 1) empowering employees to be and do their best, 2) taking care of employees’ mental health, 3) positively impacting the community in ways that help others, and 4) partnering with other institutions to improve the needs of a target audience. This is very different from the authoritative style. It now means to be a better person, empowering others to be better, in order to make the world better. Wow, what a difference over time! If anyone follows the trend of leadership, this idea of being better to produce better for better is no longer just tied to a business, organization, or institution. It’s a life principle.
Children are learning leadership styles and ways to be better leaders through kids’ leadership programs, workbooks, and journals. Big Life Journal for Kids specializes in building children’s self-esteem and resiliency in order to handle life’s challenges. While the company does not specifically mention “leadership,” it’s easy to see how areas such as mental health, lifelong learning, courage, and resiliency are all components of being an effective leader. Leadership 4 Kids creates journals for children that focus on components of what makes a great leader. A simple Google search of “leadership for kids” provides an array of websites developed for children to learn leadership traits to help them in life. Lately, my most requested workshop/webinar has been on Ethical Leadership (a workshop geared towards college students). People of all ages are learning ways to apply leadership (different styles) in their everyday lives, for others and for themselves.
The idea of leadership, what it is, and what it’s for will continue to evolve over time, but we are definitely moving in the right direction when we start looking at this topic from a mindset of making ourselves and the world better. Whether it’s ethical leadership, servant leadership, transformative leadership, or any other style, these lifelong traits that affect every aspect of our lives. Use them, practice new styles, and build your own way of leading.
Keep leading and stay safe,