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Time to Redefine the Word “Leadership”

Evolution of leadership

By Andy Thatcher, Vice President of Sales, J2 Solutions

What is leadership? Most people might say it’s one’s ability to guide, influence and Evolution of leadershipmanage others. At its most basic level, this is true. But today, I challenge you to think a bit more outside the box on the true meaning of the word “leadership.”

In my view, leadership is a verb. It’s fluid and evolving—it adapts and responds to factors outside our control.

Since March, we’ve all been on some version of the same rollercoaster. While nobody asked for all that’s been thrown our way, we at J2 continue to look for the lessons learned amid the calamity. And what we’ve learned about leadership is no exception.

The fact is, we’ve all led through this crisis. Perhaps you didn’t realize that’s what you’ve been doing this whole time, but chances are, it is. For seven months, we’ve all had to grapple with a series of unexpected changes and unknowns, including new work environments, shifting priorities, questions about the upcoming election and fears over health and finances, to name a few. How did we manage to survive the chaos?

We led.

We all practiced self-leadership as we adapted to the moving target of the “current” state of affairs. We all had to learn how to become accountable to our business, our families and ourselves differently. Most of you reading this are likely doing so from your home office—maybe even with kids “at school” in the next room, eating into your bandwidth.

How did you adjust? Maybe you established a new work schedule or had to learn new technology. You may have even been forced to shift your work and personal priorities to accommodate the profound changes that befell your place of business and your family. You may have even had to step up and ask for help (a sign of strength, not weakness, by the way).

Whatever the conditions to which you had to adapt, one thing is for sure: you did adapt. You led yourself through the changes, formed new routines, established new thought processes and adjusted to new communication methods. You rose to the occasion, and you pushed through. But if you’re like most, you weren’t the only beneficiary of those leadership skills; you likely led in your interactions with others.

You weren’t the only one adjusting; your colleagues were in the same boat. In the vein of “we’re all in this together,” you probably stepped up and shared tips, tricks, pointers or guidance with your peers as they, too, were learning to adapt to their new world. The fact is, most business professionals offered—and continue to offer—professional support and guidance to their colleagues. That is leadership—the verb.

How do you know if you’re demonstrating leadership? You’ll slowly begin to notice improvements, which will ultimately impact performance. For example, you may start to feel empowered as you help others, while they may experience less stress and greater productivity.

Jim Rohn, entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker, said it perfectly: “A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better.”

Today, I urge you to recognize how you led through the crisis. Acknowledge that the leadership you demonstrated served you, those around you and your organization. You led, and you made an impact.