Learn to Lead, Be it a Big L or a Small L

Ink on Gel Printed Paper – Words: Warren G. Bennis

I had a conversation about leadership today. What it is, what it isn’t and I actually shared this quote. In all the things leaders do, being able to bring life to the big picture in such a way that other people can understand AND see where they fit into it all, THAT is great leadership.

Be it a community service team, a volunteer organization, a corporate meeting or an arts related program, every group has a leader. It may not be a title or granted through a vote, it may be the person who gets things done outside of the group’s titles and structure. The one leading the group is the one who mobilizes people to see them do more than they thought themselves capable of contributing. I once had someone explain it to me as Leadership with a big L and leadership with a small L.

The big L leader is the person who carries the organizational power, title, and is responsible for the financial outcomes of the group. The small L leader is the person who gets things done and leads the group without the power of a title. Both play an important part, and in many of the groups in which I have been the small L leader, the big L leader didn’t actually participate much, they simply attended meetings and navigated where necessary. That is not to say that all big L leaders do nothing, and it is not to say that everything gets done by small L leaders. Both kinds make things work from different ends of the spectrum.

My best leadership experiences were a mixed bag, both big and small L leadership roles in different groups or situations. I mention that to remind us all that leaderships is not about a title, it is about leading a group – a family, a church team, a corporate organization or a non-profit – towards the goal. It means moving people to action and allowing them to bring their best skills to the table no matter their title or position. Do not let the presence or absence of a title prevent you from stepping up and leading the group. ANYONE can be a leader if they are able to empower people to act, and act with a purpose. Learn to lead – be it a big L or a small L, say yes to all opportunities bring your best self.

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