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Leadership with a small l – Leading Yourself and Leading by Example
by On July 22, 2008

What do I mean by “Leadership with a small l”? Yesterday I wrote about Leadership with a Big L – that is being a leader when that is your job and responsibility to set objectives, map a course of action and get results from a group of people. This usually shows up in your job title. For instance, you could be a manager, a coach, a director etc. On the flip side, leadership with a small l is leading when it is NOT your responsible to lead others; instead, it is two things: 

First of all, it’s how you lead yourself. 

Many of us aspire to “be in charge” and many of us don’t- and that doesn’t matter here. As adult human beings, we are charged with the responsibility to lead ourselves through each and every day. I’m often shocked and appalled at some of the behavior patterns I see in various workplaces. I see people demeaning their coworkers, nursing grudges, and blaming all kinds of external factors for a lack of success all of which are very natural and normal…FOR A 13 YEAR OLD. As children, it was expected that we’d act in an immature manner. If you’re reading this, that is simply not acceptable anymore.

First and foremost in leading with a small l is to simply grow up! Taking 100% responsibility for your Life and your actions will not only make you a better leader, but your Life will improve dramatically and immediately.

The second part of this kind of Leadership is to understand that whether you realize it or not, your example IS influencing the people around you.

Vince Lombardi once remarked “Leading by Example is not the best way to lead…it’s the only way”. My mom told me “Roger, be careful what you do, because your actions may be the only Bible that someone reads”. Whoa! Heavy stuff for a teenager, eh? That really taught me the essence of leadership though.

Whether you realize it or not, what you do is seen by your family, friends, coworkers and community. And it affects them. Leading with a small l means consciously acting in a manner that positively affects those around you. Whether you’re a manager, teacher, parent, telemarketer, firefighter, police officer, gardener or whatever you are a leader and can be a huge source of inspiration to way more people than you realize.

Here at Freedom Personal Development, we have an award that we call the Josh Kestelman Award. It’s given in memory of an amazing young man who worked with us a few years ago. In our company’s culture, the Josh Kestelman award is THE most coveted and prestigious award that anyone can win and do you know what it’s given for? Not sales, not service, nothing even statistical. It’s given to the individual seen by his or her peers as the most inspirational over the course of a year.

Leadership with a small l is the most impactful kind of leadership that exists and you can do it every day. I wish you inspiration on your journey.

Be Free!

Roger Seip
VP of Product Development

  1. Daria

    Roger this was great. I work in a great place where the individual team members have “forgotten” that they are what made it great in the first place. We touch other peoples lives daily both,our internal and external customers so this simple message speaks volumes to me.

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