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What does it mean to lead from where you are?

What comes to mind when you think of a leader?

Often, we may relate the term “Leader” to a role in an organization driven by a title or based on levels of hierarchy. Many years ago, I used to think the same way. As I worked with some great leaders and mentors, I’ve realized that it’s not so much about the title; it’s more about the impact and positive influence.  One more thing I’ve learned is that it can be demonstrated at every level in and outside of professional settings.

This has opened my ability to learn and get inspirational leadership lessons from everyday interactions and observations. I was inspired to write this post based on the fantastic and effortless demonstration of leadership skills by my daughter’s First Lego League robotics team.

A few weeks ago, my daughter and her team participated in a virtual First Lego League (FLL) robotics competition. I was in awe of the amazing work this group of 4 girls accomplished and how articulate they were in presenting their project work to the judges. Their team demonstrated that leadership is a skill that can be learned at any age and can be applied in any scenario.

Inspired by this team, here are the 5 steps to lead from where you are that can be applied to any role you play in personal or professional setting.

Lift each other up

I firmly believe that this is a vital ingredient for being a leader. We have a responsibility to lift each other up to achieve extraordinary results. The FLL team demonstrated this by working with each other on skill building. One of the members of the team was new to robotics and the other team members took the time to coach her through programming skills and got her up to speed. I admired the teamwork they demonstrated by lifting each other up when needed and making the team strong.

Hold each other accountable

We often rely on a role or a title to hold others accountable. Being a leader doesn’t mean that we need to rely on a role or a title. The team effectively demonstrated how to be friends and hold each other accountable to get things done. They distributed tasks and worked through them diligently. They didn’t shy away from asking tough questions or supporting each other when needed. Holding oneself and others accountable for tasks is not always easy but is a vital step to getting work done and leading from wherever you are!

Both/And thinking

We typically operate in a “either/or” way-either we agree with someone or not. It’s not easy to hold both/and thinking where your thoughts/ideas can co-exist with another person’s ideas. The team demonstrated this in the most elegant way! When asked questions by the judges, each member of the team took turns to answer the questions and they didn’t shy away from adding on to their friend’s answer to provide their perspective.  This is a step in leadership that gets us one step closer to collaborating and delivering transformative results.

Deliberate Inclusion

Leading from where you are doesn’t happen in isolation. It happens when you are deliberately inclusive, providing space for everyone to be themselves and when that space is used to uplift each other. The FLL team embodied deliberate inclusion in the most inspiring way. Some of the kids were more outgoing that others. The team always took turns to answer questions but also encouraged and actively called-out their friends to answer questions. The idea hear for them was to be inclusive and call out their friends to empower them to find their voice rather than putting them on the spot.

Inspire and motivate each other

A vital step to leading at any level is to inspire and motivate each other to achieve a common goal. The FLL team demonstrated this at every step of the way. During the season, I’ve watched them inspire and motivate each other to work hard, innovate and learn for one common goal– to win the competition. They not only won the competition but learned some vital leadership lessons along the way.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

John Quincy Adams

I believe that every human being has tremendous potential to demonstrate leadership regardless of where they are and what they do. I’d like to close by encouraging you reflect on how you think of leadership and what actions you are taking to inspire yourself and others?


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