It was Bob Dylan who so eloquently said fifty-something years ago, ‘The times, they are a-changin’.
History shows us societal change occurs during moments of revolution; when people stand up for what they believe in and challenge what’s always been accepted. Society today is going through remarkable change. Communities no longer tolerate what was considered ‘normal’ behaviours of the past – think the #MeToo movement, racial issues or marriage equality.
‘Allies’ are standing up with minority groups to make their voice louder and help effect change. This requires great bravery and belief, but of course leadership. However, leadership doesn’t have to be
revolutionary to have change.
A definition of a leader, as I see it, is somebody who affects change on others. As a result, there are times
when we are all leaders and we are going to be looked to for guidance.
Everyone has a ‘sphere of influence’ – a small group of people whom we interact with every day. They
could be your partner and kids, or the person you buy coffee from through the drive-thru. Regardless of
whether we are conscious of it or not, we effect everybody within that sphere of influence in whatever we do or say.
The magnitude of this guidance and leadership doesn’t really matter. For teachers, they understandably
have a huge influence on their sphere of influence. For the person in the coffee drive-thru, their
interactions also have the opportunity to influence a person’s days in seemingly small ways. Both can
Understanding the influence we can have on people was a revelation to the way I view leadership.
Having spent time in the army, I always defined leadership as the heroic figure charging from the front.
They’re people who capture imaginations and aren’t afraid to try something new – the Richard Bransons,
Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and even Donald Trumps of the world. But that’s only one type of leader.
At the bare minimum, everyone is a leader to themselves. We lead ourselves into trouble when we don’t
lead with inspiration and clarity. We lead ourselves around in circles when we don’t learn from our
mistakes. Our decisions and behaviours have a direct influence on the circumstances we find ourselves in.
It’s an important lesson I learned, because there are times in life where you cannot control what’s
happening around you – but you always have control over yourself and how you choose to react.
So remember the next time you are faced with an internal decision, or you find yourself in proximity with
another person, ask yourself: ‘How do I want to define this moment?’ By allowing yourself a second of
reflection, you can hopefully create a more positive world around you.