How To Demonstrate Small Acts Of Leadership (Both In And Out Of The Office)

Authentic leadership isn’t limited to the workplace – it’s present in all areas of our lives, and is demonstrated through both our large and small gestures. Leadership also isn’t necessarily limited to managing a group of people. A lack of direct reporting does not disqualify any individual from being highly regarded as a leader among their office peers, because true leadership (regardless of the environment) is rooted in so much more.

What Makes a Great Leader

Great leaders are people you aspire to emulate, as they demonstrate qualities that you admire or would like to develop within yourself. 

Key Attributes of Leaders

Among others, some of the key attributes of revered leaders include:

Ultimately, a successful leader is someone who is first and foremost, human and therefore someone you can connect with. 

Saying this, it can definitely be a balancing act too! While you want to be relatable and empathetic, for example, you’ll also need to ensure you’re showcasing your authority. For me, maintaining this fine line wasn’t something that initially came easy, but as leadership is a skill, it was something I was able to (and we all can) nurture and learn through experience.

My Journey with Leadership

I can remember early on in my career when I hired an employee on a part-time basis for 20 hours per week. As time went on, however, it became evident that the scope of work didn’t require the number of hours I’d initially advertised. Still, I didn’t want to feel responsible or guilty for this individual’s unemployment. I found myself in a conundrum whereby I felt a mixture of empathy in not wanting to let this person down, but also acutely aware of the fact I was side-stepping my authority, and genuine desire to make correct business decisions; my bank account was slowly being bled dry.

This anxiety-inducing state of affairs carried on until things eventually got to a breaking point and we both knew it was time to call it quits. My fear of letting them down overrode my ability to make the required executive decision and stop saying yes. In the end, the employee very quickly found another job, whereas I was left suffering financially for months. Had I tactfully had the difficult conversation and let them go earlier, the likelihood was that we would both have been in a favourable position. Despite how frustrating and avoidable that ordeal was, I don’t consider it a failure. I prefer to frame it as a lesson I’m thankful for because moving forward, it expedited my confidence in executing the correct business decision at the right time.

(If you’re looking for a different perspective on resilience after failure, you might be interested in this article:  Life Doesn’t Give You What You Want, But What You Need)

Embracing Failure as a Leader

In the realm of leadership, in and outside of the office, there is a lot to be said about failure. Along with the fear of having challenging conversations and being perceived as a “know it all,” arrogant, or obnoxious person, failure, and more specifically, failing in front of people, is unsurprisingly one of the primary reasons capable folks are deterred from positions of leadership. 

What I know to be true is that embracing failure is a core component of a successful leader. With 15 years spent falling down in front of people when I participated in extreme sports like riding BMX, FMX, freestyle motocross, skateboarding, and snowboarding, the “fall down-pick-yourself-up-and-do-it-again” mentality was pretty much ingrained in me. Thankfully, this lesson to quickly overcome failure and setbacks was also transferable, and I carried it with me into my entrepreneurial career.

Dispel the Desire for Perfection

Learning to lean into failure is a great segway into my next point, which is to dispel the desire for perfectionism, which ties nicely into the need to “let go.” Despite the understanding that most of us have a “there’s no such thing as perfect” outlook, it’s often an ideal that many of us strive for, and try to maintain when thinking about stepping into a leadership position, or are already in the role. Not only is perfection unattainable, but worrying about/trying to be perfect consumes far more energy than being confident in the fact you’re doing your best. In addition to this, research has shown that perfectionistic tendencies can create a distressing loop of self-criticism, depression, anxiety, and stress.

(If you’re struggling to manage your anxiety, stress and depression, read this article: How to Overcome Depression)

Relinquishing Control 

Throughout my leadership journey, I’ve had to learn how to communicate effectively, to reconcile with the fact that just because I’m a leader, it doesn’t exclude me from requiring help or advice, and lastly, how to let go. Initially, I had trouble trusting folks with the work I delegated. But this had everything to do with the expectation of perfection that I’d place on myself, and far less to do with the trust I had in my coworkers; though it ultimately came across that way. Relinquishing control allowed me to accept the help I needed, which in turn helped me avoid burnout, and ultimately validated my coworkers – not to mention the wonders it did for my sanity!  

Three Steps to Becoming a Successful Leader

At the end of the day, when it comes to leadership, the tiniest actions can make the biggest difference, and here are three small, yet practical steps that I’ve taken toward becoming a better leader: 

  1. Completing My Five-Minute Journal Ritual Every Day
    I speak at length about the importance of journaling and how much starting the day with gratitude has positively impacted my productivity. It also enables me to reflect and document what went well that day, and what could have gone better; learnings that I’m able to take into the following day.
  2. Reading Books To Stay Up To Date While Learning Something New
    I’ve recently read and strongly suggest Together Is Better and Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek, and The Leader Who Had No Title by Robin Sharma. Reading on a regular basis helps feed your mind with the information that you’d like to keep at the forefront and challenges you to become a better leader and a better version of yourself.
  3. Looking At Other Leaders On YouTube
    It sounds pretty obvious, but YouTube is an amazing resource. One of my top three (or perhaps even number one) entrepreneurs is Patrick-Bet David, who shares innovative strategies for business leaders on his channel, Valuetainment. Other personalities and channels I love which I am inspired by include Tom Bilyeu and Evan Carmichael.

Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Leadership Skills

Finally, to those who would like to be considered for leadership roles, I challenge you to raise your hand, if and when the opportunity arises. Don’t shy away from speaking up if you notice something that needs improving, or offering a suggestion; you never know whose attention you might catch, or who you’re inspiring to do the same. Try to learn something new, and be willing to step out of your comfort zone and into something uncomfortable, especially if that means speaking up. 

As organizations depend on new ideas to stay relevant, having the courage to demonstrate small acts of leadership plays a key role in business success. What’s more, is that these acts deepen and attract more quality relationships in and outside of the workplace.

Everyone has demonstrated leadership at some point in their life or another. What was a time when you felt empowered in a leadership role? Have you experienced failure or setbacks during your journey to becoming a leader? Share your thoughts, ideas, insights, and more below.

Enjoyed this article? Here are three more to help you succeed:

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What To Do When Nothing Is Going Right

Whenever you are ready here are the 3 best ways I can help you:

  • Get a FREE copy of my autobiography, Still Standing: When You Have Every Reason to Give Up, Keep Going (here)
  • Looking for a speaker for your next event? Watch Kevin’s keynote reel on The Hero Mindset (here)
  • Interested in team building? Come play and learn more about the Sledge Hockey Experience (here)

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