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Leadership: Illuminating the Lives of Others through Integrity

April 30, 2020

If you asked a random group of people, “What kind of leader are you?” most would likely tell you they don’t consider themselves leaders at all. People envision leaders as standing on a stage, behind a podium, or in front of large crowds, and many individuals don’t crave, or even care for, that kind of spotlight. A few even believe that what they have to say won’t generate any real difference.

But what about smaller-scale, everyday influencers? It turns out that even those enthusiastically leading discussions, inspiring and empowering others, and being consistently authentic don’t see themselves as leading the way, either. This is a prime example of how a lack of self-awareness and self-assurance can cloud our own resilience and reality.

For many, leadership means that people are observing us and that makes most of us squirm right where we’re standing. But if we root our ideals in integrity, and “speak the truth even if our voice shakes,” as American activist Maggie Kuhn advised, then the vulnerability and volume of our voice echoes in the ears of all willing to listen.

Small, Selfless Acts Make a Positive, Profound Impact
In his TED Talk in Toronto, author Drew Dudley provided his insight on everyday leadership. He noted that as a society we have made leadership into something bigger than ourselves, that we have turned it into a large-scale circumstance. He argued that leadership ought to lie more in every day, thoughtful moments; when you help someone change the direction of their life without expecting anything in return. He proposed that leadership is, in fact, reasonably-sized — so there is no doubt we all can rise to the opportunity.

We’ve all experienced that life moment when someone said that one thoughtful thing or performed that one transformational action. Although it might have seemed small at the time, it made the biggest difference in your immediate world. Dudley suggests letting those people know what a difference they made, consequently altering our perceptions of how we can lead the way in our own lives.

Introspection Leading the Way for Improvement
Leadership is not meant for a select few, but for all. Leadership means you begin to recognize who you are, what you do well, and what you’re meant to share with the world. It means exposing your unique experiences through elements of your skills, attributes, and abilities. Paving the way takes patience, not only with yourself, but with others in your organization or sphere as well. It’s being honest in recognizing that we are all human and that there are positives in seeking progress over perfection.

By taking a look at your whole self — past, present, and pending — you paste together all of the pieces that build you into being. When you become cognizant of who you are at your core, self-actualization can alter your attitude and actions, causing you to grow graciously into the leader you were destined to become.

From Ponder to Practice
How do you tap into what makes you tick? Below you will find a few pointers to finesse your fundamental self:

  • Ask for feedback from coworkers and friends
  • Be aware of your body language
  • Build a bucket list
  • Journal
  • Pay attention to your self-talk
  • Create a mission statement for your life
  • Take personality tests like The Enneagram or DISC models

Looking into the layers of your unique self, you consequently become more comfortable in your own skin, and with that confidence, you become more apt to cheer on others to do the same. When you feel free to show up as you are, you are more likely to stand for something. If you don’t, as the old saying goes, “You will fall for anything.”

Sandi Coyne-Gilbert is an accomplished leader with experience in both the education and nonprofit sectors. Coyne-Gilbert specializes in working with adult learners and is enthusiastic about instilling a passion for lifelong learning in her students. Her work with at-risk and marginalized groups provided her with unique insights into the power of education for people in transition. Beyond the educational field, Coyne-Gilbert also has experience in marketing and nonprofit leadership. Most notably, she was one of the driving forces behind the development of the Ronald McDonald House in Springfield, MA. Coyne-Gilbert brings her experiences to the classroom as program director for the master’s degree in Organizational Leadership at Goodwin University. Are you ready to make a lasting impact? She’d love to hear from you.

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