What Does it Mean to be a Leader

Are leaders born or made? Can anyone become a leader? And if so, how exactly does one go about becoming a leader? Whatever your answers to the above questions, you are right. And you are wrong.

The concept of leadership has greatly evolved from the days of yore, when Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar might have been the archetypes of the alpha male with all the necessary characteristics to show the world which way to evolve.

Strength, prominence, and a suitably sized army did indeed play a role in their ascendance to legendary status, yet somewhere between Roman emperors and Silicon Valley’s CEOs humanity has rightfully evolved to merit other traits to the leader persona: emotional stability, empathy, communication, accountability, integrity.

In the current state of affairs in fact, a true leader needs to display such a varied and vast array of qualities that it seems nearly impossible for anyone to ever aspire to behold such a solemn title.

It is no surprise therefore, that a great majority of people do not consider themselves leaders at all, even when they hold roles of great importance in their workplaces, schools, and families.

The more revealing question then should be: how do you go from not thinking of yourself as a leader, to believing you can be one, to realizing each one of us is the leader of our own lives.

A universal definition of leadership is ephemeral because it can’t be plucked out of space and applied to our own individual circumstances.

A freshman completing a group project displays leadership qualities as much as Napoleon conquering Europe. They have both set a goal for themselves and have worked with others to achieve that goal. They have both taken risks and responded to unforeseen circumstances. But first and foremost, they both believed that they had the abilities to create something, and ultimately learned to trust their own nature to succeed.

The objective, therefore, should not be to try and define a leader by extrapolating qualities from whoever you choose to idolize; the objective should be to help everyone see and nurture the leader within themselves.

Author Credit by:
Marta Antonelli

Photo Credit by:
Mario Purisic