A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves. ~ Lao Tzu
We’ve heard before that anyone can be a leader, that we don’t need a title to be a leader and that leadership isn’t a formal role or position or job that we can be hired for and paid. While exceptional leaders can be found with titles and roles, such labels and formalities aren’t prerequisites for leadership.
But what is it that we need in order to be a leader?
What are the most important characteristics that make up a leader if they’re not written out under a title or in a job description?
There are many characteristics – many important and essential ones – but what it comes down to, even before the characteristics, is that true leadership is a choice. It’s a decision that we make when we choose to accept and act upon all those noble, decent and respectful characteristics that make up a leader whether we’re in public or behind closed doors.
Leadership is based on how we choose to conduct ourselves in our everyday lives. It’s how we choose to interact with those around us, with family and strangers alike. It’s how we choose to treat every living thing and the environment in which we live and share.
The real leader makes these choices based not on what’s best solely for him or her and their families but based on the highest good for all those who will be affected by their decisions now and in the future.
Leadership is an internal choice and that choice – and the commitment to that choice – determines whether or not we are leaders, regardless of a title or position.