Leadership is not in a title. An error we sometimes make is equating a particular title or position for leadership. It may say “President” or “Chairman” or “Pastor” or “Principal” on the door, but these honored designations do not necessarily mean that these individuals are truly leading their companies, churches, or schools. Former Chrysler chairman Lee Iococca once said, “Sometimes, even the best manager is like the little boy with a big dog. The boy is waiting to see where the dog wants to go so that he can take him there.” It often happens that, instead of leading, those who are in potentially influential positions find themselves being yanked along like this little boy. Rather than directing and influencing, they find themselves reacting and managing.
No, a lofty title does not a leader make. Problems arise when one thinks that, because he or she has a title, people will automatically follow. This person tends to ignore many fundamental principles of leadership, such as integrity, strong relationships, and trust. One who attempts to lead simply because of position or title usually disregards the importance of relationship skills and the significance of trustworthiness. This person tends to operate out of ego and the desire to control. He or she expects others to respond immediately to their edicts because, well, they are in charge and their title gives them authority, they think. This type of approach is likely to contribute to disgruntled personnel and ineffective results.
If leadership is not about a position, what is it, then? Leadership is about influence and impact. It is about making a difference. Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, said that when you become a leader, success is all about growing others. It is about influencing other people. To influence others well, a leader must pay close attention to developing solid interpersonal relationships, building trust and integrity into the organizational system, and sacrificing for the good of the company, church, or school. One of the great things about this fact is that you don’t even have to hold a formal position or have a specific title to be a leader. Some of the most effective leaders that I have known in the church have been laypeople who simply had a gift for impacting others in a positive way. Don’t wait for a promotion to become a leader; be one where you are.
Jesus preached influence. In the Sermon on the Mount, He said, “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14). Be an influence to your family, to your friends, to your church, to your business, to the world, and you will be a leader.