If you had asked me three years ago what my definition of Leadership was, I would have given a much different answer than I would today. I owe much of this change in perspective to the chance to attend the first of three leadership conferences. Little did I know the morning that I walked into the event that my life was about the change for the better and I was going to start thinking about things in my life in a FAR different way.
I've mentioned once or twice that the people who speak at the Chik-fil-A Leadercast each year are some of the best and brightest minds in business, sports, entertainment, and academia. They are all widely considered to be strong leaders in their fields and I feel like they genuinely want to help others to succeed as they have been able to succeed in life. From John Maxwell to Tim Tebow, from Condoleezza Rice to Coach K, the list of notable personalities goes on and on.
Three years ago I sat and tried to absorb as much from the speakers as I possibly could, furiously taking notes along the way. The second time around I similarly took notes, but also tried to listen to everything that the speakers were saying. I made it a priority to sit down at my computer within the week following that second conference and type up synopses of each speaker based on my notes so that I could flesh out the ideas while they were still fresh in my head. I still look back on these notes on a regular basis today and continue to gain inspiration from them. I did the same after the conference earlier this year and hope that I am able to attend the conference next year as well. I strongly urge you to work with your employer, school, church group, etc. to set up a satellite viewing of this event.
But what did this conference really do for my concept of leadership?
Before I attended this conference, I was actually in a management position at my job and had been for almost four years, but I thought that was enough to make me a leader. Now I know how wrong I was.
In the years since going to that first conference (2011) I have come to understand that true leadership can be performed at any level of an organization and getting a promotion to management doesn't immediately make you a good leader. As John Maxwell has written about time and time again, true leadership is the act of making others better. It is service to others; service that will enrich the lives of the people around us and lifting everyone up to be able to achieve more and better things.
Think about the people in your life that you would call leaders. Perhaps it is a coach on your high school sports team or a pastor at church. These are likely two very different types of people and two very different types of leaders, but both can get the job done and help those around them. Managers at work can be leaders based on their position, but true leaders should be striving to bring everyone else up to and even beyond their own level.
Take a look at your own thoughts on leaders and leadership. If you think like I did several years ago, I recommend seeking out some established leaders in your community or picking up some books by well known authors on the subject (John Maxwell, Andy Stanley, Jack Welch just to name a few) and read through some of their thoughts. You’ll be glad you did. More importantly, the people around you that benefit from your leadership will be glad too.