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  • Writer's pictureDr. Patrick E. Crawford

Everyday Leadership

Leadership Thoughts | Issue #163

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"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." - John Quincy Adams

Sometimes, what appeared to be a small gesture of kindness by another person can significantly impact someone's life. I call these actions "everyday leadership." I have personally experienced the power of everyday leadership. Allow me to recount a personal experience that highlights the influence of an everyday leader.  On March 13 of my last year of high school, I was called to the counselor's office for the required exit interview. The counselor's first question was, "Patrick, where will you be going to college?" I replied that while I had thought about it, college was not a feasible option for myself due to financial constraints, so I hadn't applied anywhere yet.

The counselor had a proposition for me. He asked if I would be interested in pursuing higher education and attaining a degree if he helped. A few weeks later, I revisited his office to discover that I had been accepted into Slippery Rock College! The counselor also aided me in creating a financial strategy to cover tuition and other costs.

While it may seem like a typical day for a counselor, his practice of everyday leadership had a profound impact on my life. My high school counselor's actions left such an impression on me that I ultimately decided to pursue a degree in counseling myself.

Drew Dudley's TED talk, "Everyday Leadership: The Lollipop Moment," has gained a following of over five million viewers. In his speech, Dudley challenges the belief that only extraordinary individuals can be leaders and suggests that leadership is within everyone's reach. He introduces the concept of "lollipop moments," small but meaningful acts that can positively impact others. Dudley urges people to shift their perspective on leadership and focus on these everyday interactions that have the power to change lives and, ultimately, change the world. His message emphasizes that anyone can be a leader by recognizing and creating these significant moments in their daily lives.

"Everyday leadership" refers to demonstrating leadership qualities and behaviors in our daily lives, regardless of our formal titles or roles. Leadership goes beyond formal settings like boardrooms or political offices; it can be displayed when guidance, influence, or direction is needed. These leaders inspire and motivate others in everyday scenarios. They are open and genuine, making them relatable to those around them. They take the initiative and proactively offer help or address issues others may overlook. Empathy plays a significant role in their actions, allowing them to connect with individuals personally and foster an inclusive environment. Honesty and transparency are key values for these leaders, helping build trust with individuals and their communities. They are capable decision-makers making timely choices by balancing thoughtfulness and action. Their communication skills are exceptional; they can express their ideas clearly and actively listen to others. These qualities make them effective leaders in everyday situations, driving change and promoting growth.

Everyday leaders stand out by embodying essential qualities like empathy, integrity, inclusivity, and an inspirational nature. Empathy allows them to forge strong connections with others, understand their concerns, and genuinely address them with care, fostering a supportive environment. Their actions and decisions are guided by integrity, rooted in honesty and moral principles, earning trust and respect from those around them. Inclusivity is crucial to their leadership style; they ensure everyone feels valued and heard, promoting diversity and collaboration within their teams or communities. Above all, they inspire others to reach their goals and strive for tremendous success. Their enthusiasm and positivity motivate others to tap into their potential and pursue more significant objectives, positively influencing their daily interactions.

The concept of everyday leadership challenges the conventional view of leadership, which is commonly associated with high positions of authority. Instead, it celebrates the power of individual influence in daily interactions. My life-changing experience with a high school counselor and Drew Dudley's motivating message about "lollipop moments" highlight that leadership is accessible to everyone and can have a profound impact in even the smallest of ways. This type of leadership is based on traits such as empathy, integrity, inclusivity, and the ability to inspire, characteristics that can enable people to make a difference in the lives of others. By recognizing and embracing our potential to lead in our everyday actions, we can collectively encourage a more supportive, ethical, and inclusive society.

Embracing the impact of everyday leadership can be achieved by focusing on three transformative actions. Firstly, reflect on your interactions and acknowledge the "lollipop moments." Secondly, take some time each day to consider how your actions and words affect those around you. This self-reflection is a powerful tool that can help you understand the impact of your everyday leadership and how you can improve it. Consider those instances, no matter how minor they might seem, where you made a noticeable difference in someone's experience. Lastly, alongside this reflection, make it a practice to identify and celebrate "lollipop moments"—those critical times when your positive influence on someone's life is evident. Recognizing these moments affirms your role as an everyday leader and encourages others to cherish and seek out their moments of impact. Focusing on these areas can enhance everyday interactions and inspire meaningful change, proving that leadership often resides in our small yet profound connections with others.


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