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Why Recognizing Everyday Leadership Matters

As someone who teaches leadership, I cannot tell you how many articles, books, videos, and podcasts I have gathered over the years, in order to curate sources that my students would find informative, thought-provoking, and interesting.

Out of all of these, one stands out as consistently ending up featured in my classes: a TED talk by Drew Dudley on “everyday leadership.”

Everyday leadership is framed as our unique ability to have a profound impact on others by simple, everyday interactions, behaviors, and actions.

Everyday leadership is our unique ability to impact others by everyday actions. Click To Tweet

Nevertheless, leadership is often positioned as something you are granted, not that which you can earn. This is the biggest misconception I encounter about leadership: that it is a privilege that only some people have.

This point-of-view is dangerous, so in order to frame the issue, here are three reasons as to why we need to start defining leadership in a more inclusive, everyday manner.

3 Reasons Why Recognizing Everyday Leadership Matters

1. Leadership needs to be perceived as attainable to increase diversity.

Historically, women and other disadvantaged populations would not have dared to imagine themselves within leadership roles. At most organizations, this has shifted, but we need to be aware that diversity is not only about gender and ethnicity; it can also take on less obvious forms, such as faith, personality, and disability.

Regardless of rank within an organization, there is a need to empower all of our employees to aspire and take on leadership roles–both formal and informal–and to be critical, creative and ethical thinkers.

One of the best ways to empower employees in this way is to recognize the leadership they take on in their normal, everyday work.

How to empower employees: recognize the leadership they take on in their normal work. Click To Tweet

2. We need to see ourselves as leaders in order to better develop our leadership skills.

Through recognizing everyday leadership, we also empower others to become aware of their leadership skills, regardless of the role and title they hold.

This allows us to encourage reflective practices in our staff and to develop leaders from within our own organization. Awareness and practice of everyday leadership can help employees across the organization combat feelings of self-doubt, low self-esteem, low self-efficacy, and hopelessness, all of which, if unresolved, can hinder productivity and employee retention.

3. It should not be seen as someone else’s responsibility to lead.

In acknowledging everyday leadership, we are empowering our employees to develop their own understandings of ethics and personal responsibility.

It should not be seen as someone else's responsibility to lead. Take ownership. Click To Tweet

Through understanding themselves and the organization’s approach to these areas of leadership, we are also encouraging the development of a voice from our employees. With those across departments and levels embracing their impact on the organization and its culture, operations, and outputs, we are becoming more inclusive.

With this inclusivity, we are encouraging employees to “speak up” when they are seeing questionable behaviors within their area. This ownership of one’s leadership and awareness of others’ leadership can help an organization to become aware sooner of practices that might be against the organization’s mission or code of ethics.

Now over to you.

There are many reasons why promoting and supporting a culture of everyday leadership can benefit an organization. How has it impacted yours?

Photo credit: © Andrew Taylor | Dreamstime.com

Stephanie Raible

Stephanie Raible

Stephanie Raible is a Teaching Faculty Member of Ethical Leadership at Claremont Lincoln University. She has worked within academic and non-profit sectors in five countries, currently serving as an Instructor of Cultural Entrepreneurship at University of Minnesota Duluth. She has held fellowships with the Royal Society of the Arts, Robert Bosch Foundation, and Deusto International Tuning Academy. She is a doctoral candidate of Organizational Leadership at Northeastern University, with master's degrees from University of Pennsylvania, University College London, and University of Deusto.

Claremont Core

Claremont Lincoln University

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Stephanie Raible

Stephanie Raible

Stephanie Raible is a Teaching Faculty Member of Ethical Leadership at Claremont Lincoln University. She has worked within academic and non-profit sectors in five countries, currently serving as an Instructor of Cultural Entrepreneurship at University of Minnesota Duluth. She has held fellowships with the Royal Society of the Arts, Robert Bosch Foundation, and Deusto International Tuning Academy. She is a doctoral candidate of Organizational Leadership at Northeastern University, with master's degrees from University of Pennsylvania, University College London, and University of Deusto.

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