Do You Call Yourself A Leader?

climbing helping  team work , success concept

What exactly is leadership? Are leaders born or made? What are some key leadership traits that we identify?

There are many opinions about leadership in our culture, and it is my belief that many more of us are leaders than we recognize.  

Service. It is the teacher who advocates for students year after year while spending his/her own money for supplies and writing lesson plans on the weekends.

Doing the work. It is the thinly stretched parent who reads to the kids night after night because they know the value of reading and the importance of just spending time.

Tough Mindedness. It is the chef who pushes his team towards excellence every day, training them with hard earned technique and knowledge.

Courage. It is the kid who stands up to a bully for his friend, even at the risk of getting hurt.

Listening. It is the friend who takes the late night distress call, offering compassion and counsel.

Accountability. It is the CEO who makes hard decisions every day to strengthen his business and provide a livelihood for the families that work for him.

Learning. It is the manager who supports an employee through a mistake or failure, to bring about learning that would otherwise not have occurred.

Encouragement and growth. It is the teacher who makes a comment to a student that allows them to blossom into an area they would never have expected.

Do you call yourself a leader? Have any of the above actions ever applied to you, to your life? Start noticing these moments, in yourself and in others. It is important that we recognize when we are making an impact, when we are leading. It empowers us and those we are trying to help grow. While it is true that some people are natural born leaders, it is equally true that leadership can be developed. It takes guts, reflection, a willingness to put aside the ego for the greater good, and an adherence to personal values. It also takes an inclination to continue learning and practice self-leadership throughout the leadership journey.

We are accustomed to evaluating leadership on a macro level. We relate to it in terms of presidents, CEO’s and community leaders. But leadership happens every day, by all types of people – introverts and extroverts, at the national or international level, on main street and in the home.


For more on Everyday Leadership, check out this Ted Talk by Drew Dudley (6 min)

This post is a part of Gray Matter’s “What is Leadership?” Series

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Drain the Swamp!


“When one is up to his a– in alligators, it is easy to forget that his original objective was to drain the swamp.”
-William Moore

I hail from a tribe of creative, restless, responsible souls who prefer DOING as much as possible, because we can, because we like the challenge, and sometimes, because we (mistakenly) think it is more economical. This applies to baking birthday cakes, building new garages, or making holiday gifts…as well as hiring employees or delegating work: the “doer” side seeks satisfaction, which at times can be a detriment from an efficiency, cost and, most importantly, a leadership standpoint.

I was talking with a colleague last night who leads an office on the west coast and shares a similar bent. He has been struggling with finding talented help, and the increased workload has put a strain on him and his team. This was affecting their productivity and clarity of purpose.

I asked, “There has got to be a way that you can find some good help for your firm. Where have you been looking, and how can you expand that search? Who else can help with this?” He then said: “well, I haven’t been working with a headhunter, because it’s seems like such a hassle, and I’m not sure I’ll get the candidates I need.”

“That may be, but it in this case, your greatest need is to find talent, and right now, you don’t have the adequate bandwidth to recruit on your own. You need to drain the swamp. Focus on what will make the most positive impact for the office and the firm. Consider this is an investment, money well spent.

It was one of those “aha” moments. He decided to make the call that very moment and we hung up. Leadership is evaluating the need and resources available, and then making the call.

Those of us from this tribe that will bake the cake, change the oil, or personally hire new talent should use the resources available so we can do the jobs we are meant to do.   Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. Stay clear. Drain the swamp.


Side note: I first heard this from one of my bosses and it caught my attention.  Also of note: There are many versions of this quote/proverb; this was my favorite. For more, see:


  •  Quote Source: William Moore, 1971 from Blind Man on a Freeway
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