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What comes to your mind when you hear of a leader? A mighty warlord with his battalion of warriors facing their enemies? Or probably a boss with a number of workers under his care who answer yes Sir/Ma. Or maybe a Student Union President, Departmental president or even a class representative in school?

These are leaders no doubt, but they are not the be all and end all of the images of leadership. The truth is that many great leaders in history led from the middle of the organization and not from the top. Leadership goes way beyond position. It comes beyond having someone who is answerable to you or someone on your payroll. It also goes beyond standing in front of an audience to speak. So we get it wrong when we think that we need a position to be a leader.

Someone once told me after a leadership seminar, “Sir that was a nice lesson. I think I will begin to apply them when I am elected our team leader”. “Oh no”, I said to him. “If you do not start applying them now, you may not even make it to team leadership”. A good number of persons are like this my friend who doesn’t see himself as a leader. Some others feel unworthy to be called a leader. They think that leadership is what they can strive for, not what they already are. Unfortunately, it is not so.

Leadership is influence! You are a leader when you influence the lives of other people. This influence can be negative or positive. Thus, a cult kingpin is a leader – though in the negative side of it. Then, a Senator is a leader also in another side of it. There is another group – those who are in no position at all but have influence over others through their lifestyle. The last group is where we all are called to fall in, with position or not.

All authentic leaders are people of influence – whether they are in a position or not. They are the class of leaders John Mason calls the 360-degree leaders. They lead in every direction, in every place and at all times. Authentic leaders do not require a throne to lead. Wherever they sit a throne. From there, they make their influences.

Not everyone understands what it means to influence people in all directions – those who you work for, those who work for you and those who slightly have encountered you. Some people are good at family leadership, not team leadership. Some are good at team leadership but not organizational leadership. Authentic leaders are those who wield influence at all positions and environment in the organisation and society.

Leading in every direction surely sounds easier said than done.  Nevertheless, it is not impossible. In fact, it is something which everyone can do with discipline. So even if you rate 6 in the rate of 10, there is still room for improvement – the biggest room in the world. Thus, everyone, no matter your present capacity in leadership, can become an authentic leader who leads in all directions. This means that your leadership skill can be developed beyond the current position it is in.

To build you into an authentic leader is one of the key objectives of Leaders’ Hangout. A place where we are inspired into authentic leadership. In what follows, we shall continue to see steps towards this development. This shall cut across spiritual, psychological and anthropological dimensions of leadership. Practical tests and assessments shall follow with time, to ensure that we are heading towards authentic leadership.

All these are done in just 600 words.

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