Leadership Is a Behavior ...
... that we should expect of everyone.
A successful organization or team of people may have one designated person at the top who makes final decisions, however, without everyone leading from within the results you are looking for -- the goal you are trying to reach -- is finite.
John C. Maxwell talks about this in his book the 360 Degree Leader (which I'm excited to share will be a featured book in an upcoming emBOSSed box!). In his book he describes 3 ways people can lead from anywhere in the organization:
Leading Up: Being willing to do what others won't
Leading Across: completing your fellow leaders (without competing)
Leading Down: transferring the vision, rewarding the results
Although all three are essential for a cohesive team with infinite results, I'm going to focus on Leading Across. When people Lead Across they are caring, learning, appreciating and contributing -- all which ends with succeeding. John created a visual for this called the Leadership Loop.
Leading Across does not work if you don't start with caring first. When you show you care you see the value everyone has to offer -- not just those who you like or are friends with -- but everyone. If you can't get past this point, if you don't show others that they are important to the entire team, then you are a weak link.
Next in the cycle of Leading Across is learning. And it's not about learning how to do your job. Equally important is learning about those who you work with. Discover what your colleagues are good at, ask for their opinions on work-related issues, and appreciate their differences.
Once you care and learn, it is easier for you to appreciate. Like John stated in his book, "we tend to appreciate people who can do things we admire or who think like us." But we are missing the boat, and again becoming the weak link in the team, if we don't seek out the talents and goodness of others who have different life experiences and perspectives.
Contributing to the team seems to be an obvious thing to do when leading from within. Yet, our natural tendency is to protect our turf and our ideas. 'I've worked here longer and that's not how we do it' mentality can be damaging. When you go out of your way to add value to your peers, they know that you really want them to win. And by adding value, that doesn't mean telling them "this is how you have to do it". Instead, it means honoring their decisions, offering suggestions when appropriate, and filling in for their weaknesses -- not overstepping them, but alongside them.
The Leadership Loop continues with 3 more attributes: verbalizing, leading and succeeding. The bottom line is that the success of the whole team is more important than anything else that consumes your day. And if everyone on the team is not contributing to this success then that is when the top-dog, the boss, the head-honcho must then step in to ensure everyone is leading in a positive way that promotes a culture with unlimited potential.