I want to complete the quote above. Here it is: “Leadership is not meant to be an all-or-nothing proposition. If being someplace other than the top has caused you great frustration, please don’t throw in the towel. Why? Because you can make an impact from wherever you are in an organization, even if you face additional obstacles.”
Skipping the next paragraph in John C Maxwell’s wonderful book, The 360 Degree Leader, he goes on to say something very important: “I believe that individuals can become better leaders wherever they are. Improve your leadership, and you can impact your organization. You can change people’s lives. You can be someone who adds value. You can learn to influence people at every level of the organization–even if you never get to the top. By helping others, you can help yourself.”
I am a huge fan of this book. In every way, in every position that I have ever been in, I have endeavored to lead–to be a leader in that position that I have, regardless of how high up the ladder it was. In all of the organizations of which I was a part, I may have been high up the ladder, but was never in an ownership position until my own business; however, that has never stopped me from leading to the best of my ability from where I was, and even leading beyond my position from time to time.
I can tell you unequivocally that this concept is an excellent place to be and I encourage it within everyone in every organization I’ve ever been with. Every organization needs a wide variety of leaders. In fact, they cannot function without them. The more there are, often the better the organization can become.
What is also critically important to realize–and this was a tough one for me from time to time– is that being at the top is not necessarily as good as where you are now. Often, I thought that I would be better in the top leadership position within companies that I was a part of, but now looking back, I’m not nearly so certain. This is partly because I now own my own company and I see a lot of companies in action in the position I hold now. Plus, I’m older and wiser now than I was then.
It is easy to take pot-shots at the top leaders when you’re on the firing line and you know what needs to get done and it isn’t getting done. The thing to concentrate on is what Teddy Roosevelt famously said so well: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” That is such excellent and timeless advice. Just focus on today, right now, with what you have, what you can do and then do it. Be the leader. It doesn’t matter so much whether you’re paid to do it that way or not. Leaders don’t go around asking for money for every movement. They just move. Go for it. If money comes, great. If money doesn’t come, great. At least you will have learned to be a better leader. That is something you can cash in down the road for sure and for certain.
If you’re not already doing so, consider stepping up your leadership and your influence today!