Leadership is Earned

Leadership is not defined by what gender you are, it is defined by whether or not you are able to serve many. Men and women both have the ability to be great leaders, and we have seen this throughout history. A leader can be anyone, man, women, child, adult, rich, poor, big or small. Leadership positions should be filled based on knowledge, talent, qualifications, and whether people believe in you or not. 

Recently the NBA Spurs named Becky Hammon their assistant coach, which makes her the first women ever to be hired as an assistant coach in the NBA as a paid position. The interesting thing about Hammon is that being the first woman hired as a coach in the NBA is not what she wants to be known for. Hammon wants to be known as “another coach in the league, not a woman coaching men” she says “I think the bigger point is I’m getting hired because I’m capable because of my basketball IQ and stuff they have seen in me personally” and that’s exactly how we should be looking at it. 

Look at some of the famous leaders in our world such as Oprah Winfrey, Nelson Mandela, Hilary Clinton, Steve Jobs, and Mother Theresa. What all of these leaders have in common is that they have had the proper knowledge, talent and qualifications as well as complete trust from their followers in order to do their job. These leaders have all done amazing things and each and every one of them has earned their spots as great leaders in our world.

In order to earn your spot as a leader, you must show your followers that you are respectful, loyal, confident and trustworthy.  If you don’t respect your followers, then they won’t respect you. If you aren’t loyal to them, then they wont be loyal to you. If you are not confident in yourself or your team, then they won’t be confident in you, and if they can’t trust you, then they will never follow you. 

To be a great leader, one must look inwards as opposed to outwards; leading from within first before leading others.  “To find your voice, you have to explore your inner territory.  You have to take a journey into those places in your heart and soul where you bury your treasure, so that you can carefully examine them and eventually bring them out for display”  (Kouzes & Posner, 2007, p.50).

Your values and beliefs impact your leadership.  They strongly influence how we interpret reality and guide how we understand the way the world works. This awareness and understanding affects how we react to people, events and situations around us.

It is not possible to be a leader without followers. “No leader ever got anything extraordinary done without the talent and support of others. Leadership is a team sport, and you need to engage others in the cause” (Kouzes & Posner, 2010, pp. xxi-xxiv).  

Earning your spot as a leader means having the proper knowledge, talent and qualifications, but it also means having followers that believe in you. You must show your followers that you “walk the talk”, and live your values. Kouzes and Posner (2007) stated, “the personal-best leadership cases [they’ve] collected are, at their core, the stories of individuals who remained true to deeply held values” (p. 46). 

It takes a special person to be a leader, and it takes a special person to be a follower. Without followers, we don’t have leaders and that is why leadership is something that has to be earned, because people who earn things are respected and you cannot be a leader without respect.  In order for people to believe in you, they need to understand what you stand for.  

Kouzes, J., & Posner, B. (2007). The leadership challenge (4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Kouzes, J., & Posner, B. (2010). The truth about leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.