In General, Do We Need To Prime Every Person or Student As If They’re The Next Leader?
Leadership Lesson: It’s important to understand that, although they will contribute meaningful value in other ways, not all people want (or need) to be leaders.
An article in The Atlantic, titled “Why are American colleges obsessed with leadership? What’s wrong with being a follower? Or a lone wolf.,” questions the need – or “obsession,” as labeled by the writer – of American higher education institutions to build the next generation of great leaders.
Much like various other discussions, a question underlying this article is whether or not someone can just be a follower — that there is no need to work necessarily toward all-powerful, upper-most tier of leadership.
There is some truth in the article. There is no need to assume every person that comes through a competitive institution – those mostly referenced in the article – needs to be an official leader at the helm of an organization or entity, or become a game-changer or grand influencer.
What should stand out about this conversation is the definition of leadership. It may sound cliché, but one doesn’t need a title to be able to lead or influence. Although the institutions may be shooting for the powerful, top, executive suite for their students and graduates — not to mention, their own crème de la crème reputation — the graduates could do just as well for themselves – meaning their own satisfaction – taking other paths. Other positions may suit their own needs and desires more closely, especially when considering the definition of leadership.
Leadership is about resourcefulness. It’s about knowing yourself and your available resources to the best of your ability, to make your environment better.
Followers can be leaders too. Followers can be influential and make an impact. They can encourage, guide, and build others. They can provide, refine, and promote ideas. They can identify weaknesses and propose resolutions while identifying strengths and reinforcing them.
One doesn’t need a title to be an effective leader.
Sure, the most obvious prestige may come from the top office, but there’s no need to discount the difference a person can make from anywhere else lower in the ranks of an entity, business, or organization.
And we can’t just talk around the subject — the student. It’s on each of them to become aware of what it is they want for themselves. What coaching seeks to provide most is that type of self- and overall awareness. It is important for clients – or anyone for that matter – to know what their options and possibilities are.
Many people may coast through life believing that the most that can happen for them is happening. But they fail to realize there’s an extra step of proactive control they can take over their lives and work.
We may follow tradition when we’re younger, the script society suggests for us – go to high school, then college, then get out and work. And work. And work. And work. Or maybe it’s: Be the best, Be the best, Be the best!
But there’s that extra step of taking the reins and continuing to develop and grow beyond what may be taking place in our lives at the moment – work. Instead of sticking to the gradual, “scripted” incremental and developmental benchmarks, we can grow exponentially by breaking that common mold.
Where you are currently? Is it where you want to be? How do you get to where you want to be? What steps will you take?
Some people might long to be the top boss or leader while others do not. Each person has his or her own idea or definition of success and achievement.
One’s own definition of success and achievement may not line up with the environment, network, or circles within which he or she exists in his or her life and work.
But that’s what each of us should get to – what we want to achieve.
It’s important to get people to open their eyes, understand how they reconcile to their environment, and what they truly want. That’s the goal.
In the end, for some, the sky may be the limit. Others are just fine harnessing their energy in a different direction or fashion.
What do you think? Where do you fall in the discussion? Does top leadership have to be the ultimate goal?