Last week I had the privilege of delivery the keynote address at the Leadership Summit of ALPFA Hartford club. ALPFA is the largest Latino association for business professionals and students and has over 16,000 members across the USA. Their mission is to expand Latino leadership in the global workforce by creating opportunities, adding value, building relationships for its members, the community and its business partners.
The theme of the ALPFA Leadership Summit was an intriguing one to me – Everyday Leadership: Finding the Leader in You. To prepare this new keynote, I interviewed five leaders in my network that I respect and admire. I asked them two simple questions:
- What does Everyday Leadership mean to you?
- When did you first know that you were a leader?
Before I share their insights with you in this article, I want to encourage you to have this same conversation with people in your network, particularly with leaders you admire. It is as simple as asking these two questions. The conversation will flow from there. The result of having this discussion, you will not only garner important wisdom and insights, but you will deepen your relationship with this leader. Please action this suggestion. You will be pleasantly surprised and rewarded by doing so.
- Want to read what AlPFA members had to say about Everyday Leadership? As part of an ice-breaking exercise in my keynote talk, I asked the ALPFA members to write down words and ideas about what everyday leadership meant to them. They then shared this with their neighbor and we got the conversation going. Click here to read what these Latino leaders had to say about everyday leadership….
Here’s what my clients and friends had to say about Everyday Leadership:
“Everyday leadership is a way of life. Everyday we are faced with situations and opportunities to demonstrate a leadership role, be a role model, pass on wisdom…. it’s not a conscious action but rather a natural reaction.” – Aleida Herzog – financial services professional and board member of the YWCA Hartford.
“Everyday leadership is the moment-by-moment, day-by-day activity of providing purpose and direction for a team. It’s the multitude of small acts and decisions that accumulate into a leadership position, persona, perspective or whatever you want to call it. I like the term “subtle”…not big, brash, take-the-hill stuff (although there is a time and place for that as well). Most leadership happens in small doses, daily interactions that have consistency and integrity to them.” – John Madigan– President and CEO of Executive Talent Services
“It’s all about everyday leadership. Everything you do as a leader is being WATCHED by the people you are leader, including your language, your timeliness, your attention to detail. You must Lead by Example and excel at the ‘little things’ as well as the ‘big things’.”- Christine Harvey – retired Lt. Cornel in the US Army after 25 years of service; now working as a program manager with Sikorsky Aircraft
“We are all LEADING our lives, and some of us are doing it unconsciously. We all have an opportunity to come into conscious awareness of that leadership. Take more responsibility for your leadership. See the possibilities you have with your personal power and influence. Just because you have a title of authority doesn’t make you a leader. You must gain follow ship!”- Princess Bola Adelani – the Total Success Coach, entrepreneur, television host and motivational speaker
“To become a leader you must put yourself in challenging situations. You must TRY and do even when you are not comfortable. It starts with the kid in the classroom who raises his/her hand even when they are just a little bit uncomfortable doing so. That’s a leader.” – Jim Marlor, Jr. managing partner, New England Financial Group, and formerly military officer with the US Army
Twelve tips to help you practice leadership everyday
The core of my keynote address “Everyday Leadership” to the AlPFA Hartford group consisted of twelve practice tips to help them hone their leadership skills over time. I grouped the tips into three buckets:
- Lead Yourself
- Lead the Business
- Lead Others
This is perhaps the most important area of leadership of all. If you can’t lead yourself effectively, you have no business attempting to lead others.
- Product Improvement
Lead the Business
You don’t have to the CEO of a company to exercise leadership on the job. High potential leaders strive to practice and perfect the following:
- Know Your Stuff
- Learn the Business Fundamentals
- Ask Tough Questions and Make Difficult Decisions
- Communicate Effectively
Having authority over others is not true and lasting leadership. They might comply with your demands, but that doesn’t mean you have their allegiance. True leadership captures not only their cooperation, bu their hearts and their minds. As as leader, you might want to practice the following leadership tips:
- Leaders Eat Last
- Make it Right
- Listen, don’t just talk
- Let Others Lead
Here’s what I’ve decided about leadership
After reflecting deeply on the topic of everyday leadership, factoring in the ideas above and my own experience and career lessons, here’s what I’ve decided about leadership:
There is no set mold for leadership. Leaders come in all different sizes and shapes, colors and ages, sexes and races. They have for centuries…
People are NOT born leaders; people BECOME leaders. Everyone has leadership potential – you just need to invest in it, groom it, polish it, improve on it, showcase it, AND above all, practice it everyday!
It’s not about finding the leader in you, it’s about MOTIVATING the leader in you to come out and lead!