By Stephanie Brewer

When you hear the word ‘leader,’ who comes to mind first? You might think of political leaders like the President or business leaders like the head of a big company. Sometimes sports stars and celebrities are considered leaders in their industries. Parents, teachers and professors are leaders of families and classrooms.

Who is the leader?

 In reality, leaders can be found all around us. Every event, project, team and group needs a leader. While you might think that leadership is reserved just for the person who has the most experience or the loudest voice in a crowd, the best leader isn’t necessarily the oldest or smartest person in the group. A good leader is the person who can provide clear and effective direction. The real leader is the person who can move the work forward – and that’s not always the one with the leader title.

Let’s explore the concept of leadership. In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word leadership is ‘the capacity to lead and/or the act of leading.’ To put it simply, the leader is the person who either has the ability to lead or is taking action to lead. In some groups, there may be a ‘seasoned’ person who leads. Other groups may be waiting for someone to take the lead—and that person might be YOU!

What does it take to be a leader?

A leader has some specific qualities and skills. You may have one or more of these skills naturally and if not, these are skills you can learn.

  1. Strategic thinker:understands how the work to be done fits in the “big picture”
  2. Communicator: communicates the work needed so that others understand
  3. Connector: engages other people so they feel valued
  4. Tactical:creates a clear action plan so the team knows what to do when
  5. Trustworthy: actions match words

Being a leader means being able to gather people together, help them understand and solve problems. A good leader listens, connects other people to the work they are good at doing and ultimately guides the group to get the work done well and on time.  When you take small steps toward leadership, you’ll gain confidence and skills. And when you’re in a group without someone to lead, you’ll be prepared to step in and help the group do good work and finish successfully.

Don’t worry. If you don’t want to be in the ‘leader seat’ there are probably others who do. But when the time comes and a leader is needed, YOU will be ready. You’ve got this.