There are many times when, in discussion, you will hear someone refer to another as a leader. While being a leader may be a quality that we admire we need to understand that because someone may have BE a leader it does not necessitate that at that very moment they are practicing leadership. There are many times in my life when I would consider myself a leader but I was only one of many. For example, during my time in Boot Camp for the Marines, I was a leader and given the opportunity to lead I took it, but on many occasions I was just getting yelled at or sitting in a chair leading absolutely nothing.
The capacity to lead or the willingness to lead to not necessarily mean I am doing so. When looking at leadership we must realize that without opportunities for leadership we are just willing participants, who may even have the capacity, but are waiting to get in the game.
Opportunities can be presented to you as platforms or can be created by our own initiative.
Presented platforms gain you positional opportunities for leading others. These are the opportunity that just about everyone has, whether they take them seriously or not. Some common platforms…
- Being a Husband. You are in a position to lead your spouse.
- Being a Parent. You have the position to lead your children.
- Being an Employer or Supervisor. You have the position to lead your employees or subordinates.
- Being a Teacher. You have the position to lead your students.
- Being a Coach or Captain of the team. You have the position to lead your team.
- Being the President. You have the position to lead a nation.
- Being the Pastor. You have the position to lead a church.
Created platforms are the ones that we see as vacant, stand up, and lead under our own compelling. We can be compelled by our desire to help, our desire to fix, or our own frustration with what we see. Some examples are…
- The guy who wants to lead his friends and steps up to do it without being chosen.
- The person who in the middle of a fire alarm stands up on a table and gives direction in chaos.
- The older, wiser woman who in a town meeting sees the division beginning and quietly gives direction to bring unity.
- The woman who is tired of waiting for a man to take office that will not abuse its power but serve the people then steps up and puts her own name in to make the difference.
- The young man on the football team who sees his teammates, including the captain, heads hanging low and gathers them together to rally the team and attempt to turn this thing around.
- The young woman who in a tough time after losing her mother becomes the mother to her younger siblings because someone has to.
If you notice the created platforms are created in times of adversity. That is because adversity gives way to greatness. True leaders, when adversity strikes are compelled by their own capacity to lead. This is where I would say that, for many leaders, the act of leading in adversity is a moral issue. If I see the pain and hurt and do not attempt to right it or mend it in some way, I will not be able to sleep peaceably tonight.
Whether you currently hold opportunities of presented or created platforms you need to recognize what opportunities you hold because they will determine your context of leadership. We will look at the differing contexts next week.