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Since when is leadership just about a title, or a designation, what about the rest?


There are certain beliefs I see as “pillars of understanding” such as fundamentals we all act upon based on our own experiences.

“Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire team-mates and customers”. ~Robin S. Sharma

There’s a significant amount of truth to this quote by Robin S. Sharma. After spending over 20 years in the training industry, there are certain beliefs that I have come to see as “pillars of understanding”.

These pillars of understanding I often times refer to are fundamentals we all act upon based on our own experience and values. I’ve watched many people over the years display their core beliefs while in the vulnerability of the training classroom. When we open ourselves up for new ideas, it’s amazing what traits and beliefs surface.

One such belief is that because we may hold a certain position in our community, or in our organization, then we are already leaders. Just because of the position! Now many of us would probably say, “of course not!!!” But it is amazing how at a deeply rooted level, this belief does come out in behaviors. And as we know our behaviors are tell tale signs of what we truly value. We should not act in ways that contradicts our thoughts.

Once while I was coaching a group of managers, we discussed how as managers we sometimes ask people to do things that are against their personal values. I shared an example of one student of mine, a manager, who would ask their assistant to tell “little white lies” on their behalf.

Little white lies say for example, when a staff member would want to speak with the boss and the boss would get their assistant to tell the employee they are tied up “in a meeting”, when they weren’t. They just wanted to avoid the conversation. The assistant over time grew very uncomfortable with having to comply with their superior’s request. When they approached their manager to discuss how this undermined their values, the manager replied “I’m your boss, you do as I ask”. Needless to say the employee didn’t take long to move on to a new position with a new leader.

When I was having this discussion with the group of managers I was coaching, it was interesting to see how many aligned with the boss. Their thoughts were that this was silly on the part of the employee, everyone does it and yes, as the boss you get to ask people to do things, and they must comply. These individuals believed it was the position (of being a boss) that dictates the right to “lead” by this example. Entitlement is what this is, and every good leader knows, living this way is not a great existence.

The influences that a leader has on his/her organization are felt at all levels. People don’t follow because they feel they need to do so, they follow because the leader demonstrates integrity and values that they themselves connect to. When a leader shows that ignoring the values of others on behalf of furthering their own agenda, the majority of the people will see the organization as an environment that doesn’t foster trust.

When there is a low level of trust or none at all, companies start to fall apart. Relationships break down and people go to where they feel valued and honored.

In many organizations, real leaders are often found within the departments at the level of general staff. The ground floor of the organization. These are the kinds of folks I find to be the best at getting things done, the individual of whom when directives are given have the greatest influence on how these initiatives are handled. These are the individuals everyone seems to gravitate to. So why is that? Why aren’t they managers or department heads?  They clearly have influence. People would follow them just because they are the boss right?

Not true. People follow them because of how they make others feel. They are inspiring by living in according to their beliefs and values. They set the example for all others to follow. They have you believing you can do anything, and this is so because they themselves believe it. Their position in the company doesn’t determine this influence. Their behaviors do.

Watch for these folks who have impact, they influence others and they inspire many to be better than we thought we could be. These are true leaders.

Now let’s go out and leave a positive impact on the world!

Lindsay Benard avatar
The social responsibility demonstrated by the Fire-ED Community, in the pursuit of eliminating preventable fires, is inspirational and life changing. My company, Ellembey Training, Inc., was founded on the belief that we need to leave the world a better place than which we found it. When we are able to connect to a cause that is about something greater than ourselves, when we realize as individuals we can change the world, then we have indeed found our real sense of connection. In 2014 when I was asked to join the Fire-ED Community, I was both curious and fascinated by this movement and now I am amazed, inspired and committed. I am so proud of this mission to change the world one leader at a time through our connection to Fire-ED.

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