Ashley was excited. Her degree wasn’t even hanging on the wall yet. She packed her suitcase with just enough clothes so she wouldn’t pay an extra $40 luggage fee at the airport. One last trip before getting a real job.

Ashley’s degree was in Public Relations. Her dad Steve was a cardiologist. Successful, wealthy, and happy his daughter was ready to tackle life. The trip they were taking was his graduation gift to her. Five days in the Bahamas.

Relaxing on the beach, Steve asked his daughter what she wanted to do with her career. Her degree was in Public Relations and she had applied to several PR firms locally and regionally.  Thus far, she received a few phone interviews and two in person interviews. Nothing solid yet.

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Waiting on dinner, Steve subtly mentioned the business world needed more leaders. Ashley didn’t say much.  Her dad mentioned it again and asked if she had applied for any leadership positions.

Ashley was certain that no company was going to hire anyone without experience into a leadership position. “Dad, what does a leader really do? Is that a job? Is that an actual position?”

“Ashley, I’ve learned a lot the last 25 years at my medical practice.  If you want to make a difference no matter where you work, it’s about leadership. No, it’s not an actual position.  It’s a choice you will make.”

Whether you are entry level or the President,  title will not make you a leader. That’s a myth.

“The leaders at my practice are the nurses and administrators. They get things done. They create energy and passion. They inspire and engage everyone else. Without them, nothing gets done. With them, my practice lives its vision. I practice medicine, they lead.“

“So, the answer to your question is yes, being a leader is a job. It’s not always going to be an “actual” position within the organization you work for. But, if you choose to lead, you will create a position and experience for yourself.”

“I was reading a book by Seth Godin the other day, he calls it being a Linchpin.” Whatever you do and whoever you go to work for, become indispensable. ”

Start something.  Create things. Create energy and passion. Don’t finger point and blame, take responsibility and accountability. Be a lifelong learner. Help others succeed and you will succeed. Lead.

“You won’t find any of this in the employee handbook you get. Not everyone wants to be a leader. They don’t want the responsibility. If you don’t, that’s ok. But, to really make a difference wherever you go to work, you will need to lead in some capacity. You can lead no matter what your title is. Make a difference.”

Leaders cultivate an environment where instead of people getting discouraged and burned out, they are equipped to become what they never thought they could be and achieve things they never thought they could achieve.  Leaders grow not just results, but people too – Bill Hybells, Axiom

Ashley’s interview was at 9 am. This was her third interview since returning from the trip with her dad. The Human Resources Manager closed the door and they discussed a lot of things, college, careers, hobbies, favorite restaurants and her thoughts about the position – entry level but a start.

“So, what are your thoughts and where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

“As a leader,” answered Ashley.

With that, she left the interview and met her dad for lunch.

Do you consider leadership a position or choice?

John Bossong
John is the General Manager of Cumberland International Trucks in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He believes that a lack of passion and influence are two things that keep organizations and individuals from continually improving and living life rather than wandering through it. Connect with John on his member profile, his blog www.johnbossong.com, LinkedIn or Twitter @JohnBossong.
John Bossong

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