If I told you to think of a list of great leaders that you’ve heard of in your life, I’m sure a few names quickly come to mind—Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa, Bill Gates—that if you had a chance to meet or could have met in your lifetime, you would do it in a heartbeat.
But what about the people that helped them get there?
No good leader has ever risen to the top or garnered a leadership role by himself or herself. The team they were surrounded by, the mentors who encouraged them, their own personal role models, they all played key parts in molding that person into the figure that we know today. Although there is something somewhat comforting in the idea that we can change the world by ourselves—that individually we can make a huge impact in the world—here’s a newsflash: we can’t. Although we commonly hear and are encouraged to think that one person can change the world, we forget to mention the roles of others. The CEO of a corporation wouldn’t have a company without employees, a professor can’t teach a class if there are no students, and a leader cannot lead if there are no followers. The people who support good leaders are equally, if not more, instrumental in the success of leaders than the leaders themselves.
It is important to acknowledge those that have helped us succeed and get to where we are in life. A leader must be cognizant of the fact that they did not succeed on their own. Whether it was their friends, followers, teammates, coaches, professors, co-workers, or mentors, other people made an impact on their life. Similarly, a leader must be aware of how they fit into the lives of those around them. Whether it is the individuals they have coached, a team they have been a part of, or a friend they have counseled, they have been in that supportive position too.
Take some time this week to reach out to those who make a difference in your life. Inspire others by your actions, but also don’t forget those that inspire you.
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