One fall day, my second grade teacher asked me to stay after class. I was nervous, wondering what I had done wrong. After my classmates left the room, she asked me to come to her desk and she said something that I will always remember.
“Erin,” she almost whispered, “you are a leader and we have a new girl joining our class next week and I need you to show others how to be her friend.”
Of course I was relieved that I hadn’t done anything wrong. But I was puzzled over her statement - how was I a leader?
I was eight years old and not one of the popular students. I didn’t say much in class except to answer questions. Why didn’t she ask one of the pretty girls who had lots of friends?
Well, the new girl came and my desk was moved next to hers. I still didn’t know how to “be a leader,” but we became fast friends and still keep in touch to this day.
Looking back, my teacher didn’t think I was a leader because I was popular or pretty or always spoke up in class, but because I was willing to be authentic and friendly.
An authentic and friendly person is a natural leader.
Leadership isn’t some complicated tapestry that one is born knowing how to intricately weave perfectly in order to be successful.
The nucleus of leadership is simple: pay attention to others and respond to their needs.
Leaders have a great responsibility to bear, with an ever widening influence. Influence widens not only with position, but expands with genuine interest in others.
In simpler words, authentic leaders are with those around them.
Here’s the key: interest in others requires a solid foundation, a knowledge of who you are and what you believe.
You cannot easily look outside yourself to care for others if you don’t feel confident in your foundation.
A solid foundation requires the ability to depend on a source of strength greater than oneself.
What’s your source to help you be an authentic and friendly leader in whatever position you occupy?