Gords-Informal-LeadershipPeople are often made nervous by the word leadership. Even people in leadership positions can be made anxious by the word leadership. It’s a lofty word saddled with enormous expectations. We say the phrase great leader and think of people like Ghandi, Nelson Mandela or Winston Churchill, larger than life individuals that have defined history through their actions. But what if leadership were no longer the domain of a select few, and instead was a concept we used generously with ourselves and others. Let’s wrench the word leader down from our collective conceptual pedestal and slap it on every Long View business card. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been here for ten years or if this is your first day on the job, that title belongs to you as it does to everyone else who works here. Leadership isn’t the sole proprietorship of those on the executive, or those with the word manager, team lead or director in their title, it belongs to all of us and I’ll explain why.

First, I’d like to start with a distinction that was made clear to me by the business author and entrepreneur Seth Godin. Leadership and management are not the same thing. A manager is essentially an overseer, their job is to help the people that work under them achieve their mandate, and hopefully, they enable them to do it more effectively and more efficiently. Management is important, it’s an integral component of how we work at Long View, but it’s not leadership.

Leaders inspire the people around them to grow, sometimes in profound ways and sometimes in small ways. And I think we can all agree unequivocally that the inspiration to grow does not follow the vertical of an org chart. It comes from all around us. I’ll share a personal example of a story that inspired me. Some of you are familiar with Jason Hastie, he’s been a Long View employee for just over a decade. Likely some of you have heard his name in the news. He’s building a new home on his property in Killarney, and decided that instead of demolishing the perfectly good home currently occupying the lot he’d offer it up for free on Kijiji. The results were astounding. There were thousands of respondents and in the end a worthy recipient chosen, a family who lost their home in the flood now has a house that otherwise would’ve been landfill fodder.

Jason looked at a problem and took a decidedly unique and thoughtful approach, and that simple act means a family has a home. That’s leadership. It’s an act where we allow our own best judgment, thoughtfulness and perspective to guide us. For me his story is a reminder to survey the options instead of defaulting to the rote answer. His example reminds me to take a second look and see if there’s a solution that makes more sense. Through his actions, he certainly inspired me to grow and I have no doubt countless others around him. That’s leadership.

To close I would like to offer a challenge, when you get up each day, see yourself as a leader and consider how you are going to lead and inspire that day. Look at your life and the contributions you’ve already make to those around you, celebrate those acts of leadership and give yourself permission to create more. Oh, and when you see someone exhibiting leadership within Long View that I might not see…let me know.

 Follow me @GordMawhinney