What usually comes to mind is someone on a podium in front of a large crowd of people saying, “Yes we can!” or some other catchy slogan to motivate change. You know the type I’m talking about, the one who is well spoken, seemingly in control, and confident. While that is certainly admirable, that kind of cliché image of a leader is not the only kind of leader there is.
Leaders come in as many personality shapes and sizes as there are people. All people have leadership potential within them, but not everybody shows it outwardly. In other words, you don’t have to be in a formal, titled leadership role to be a leader.
An everyday example of a leader is one who encourages and motivates a friend to do something they’re passionate about. It’s believing in someone’s idea or goal, and helping it come to fruition. That is the stuff leadership is made out of.
We encounter those types of people everyday inside and outside of work or school. I will call this type of person, “The Unsung Leader,” or the one who operates quietly in the background. It is best summed up by this quote:
A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves. — Lao Tzu
While an important aspect of being a leader is delivering an idea successfully to a group of people and guiding them to accomplish a specific goal—the standard definition of what a leader generally does—there’s another part people rarely talk about. The part of leadership that nurtures people, helping them reach their full potentials so they can eventually become leaders themselves.
It’s always talked about in AIESEC, but sometimes, when a word is overused, it begins to lose its meaning (Leadership leadership leadership leadership! After saying it several times, it sounds weird). We need to be reminded now and then of what true leadership is.
So, this goes out to all the unsung leaders out there whose song is heard through the many people they’ve inspired.