Org charts.  Funny how, at one time, they used to not only show the proper chains of command, but they used to also be a reliable source of exactly who ran the show in a company.  While it may demonstrate who has final word on decisions, it may not always reflect where to find the leader.
This past year, I attended a Leadership conference called “Simply Lead”—a telecast from Atlanta to over 750 sites nationwide and over 120,000 in attendance.  The speakers were everyone from Condoleeza Rice and Coach K to Dr. John Maxwell and Jack Welch.  In other words, these were people who have proven their rank in leadership and provided the audience with kernels of knowledge that both inspired and enlightened.  Like I was back in school again, I took notes on everything and found myself taking stock of my position, not only as an employee, but where I might be able to become a leader in my own right.  Alternatively, I also learned that it was okay to have the confidence to challenge ineffective management styles when armed with a mix of diligent persistence and collaborative team support.  It was Dr. John Maxwell who said, “A leadership position does not make you a leader…leadership is influence, nothing more nothing less.”  So how do you influence exactly?  Here are the top 5 tidbits I learned about qualities of leadership:
1. Every leader and every person under you should be able to answer the following: What are we doing?  Why are we doing it? Where do I fit in? Without clarity, you can’t have growth. “You have no right to be a manager if your people do not know where they stand.” – Jack Welch
2. “If everything is important, then nothing is important.” – Dr. Henry Cloud.  It is crucial to know how to make necessary endings. Put it this way, even a rose bush has to be pruned to make sure that the dead buds do not deplete the resources needed to keep the best roses blooming.
3. Lead simply: add value to people every day (intentionally), subtract your leadership landmines (like trying to make everyone happy), multiply your strengths by developing them, and divide your weaknesses by delegating them
4. Leaders need to give their team self-confidence, simplicity and speed. Get your team to understand the behaviors you want.  This leads to self-confidence, which leads to simplicity that then leads to speed
5. You have to tell members of your team, “You’ve got to love to be here, but be ready to leave.”  In other words, you want your people to want to stay and not be afraid to leave (or know that they will leave if they are not a team player to the standards of a company’s culture of success).
Whether you are a company, big or small, and an employee low or high on the totem pole, leadership is an action, not a title.  May this inspire you to be your own leader!