Leading Blog


When Everyone Leads the Toughest Challenges Get Seen and Solved

When Everyone Leads

LEADERSHIP is an action, not a position. Leaders can come from anywhere. Anyone can step up and take responsibility. Leadership begins by taking responsibility for the gap between what is and what should be.

Ed O’Malley and Julia McBride believe that anyone can lead, not by being a leader, but by exercising leadership. And When Everyone Leads, our tough challenges get seen and solved. We need the diversity of thought that can come from anywhere. We need to choose leadership over comfort.

When authorities—the folks in the top jobs—empower others to lead, their own jobs get easier. When everyone else—the folks not in authority—starts leading, their work becomes more rewarding.

The first step in leading change is to identify The Gap. “Leadership always starts with dissatisfaction. No one exercises leadership unless they are unhappy with the current reality.” It means acknowledging the concerns and facing the hard choices that must be made to move in the direction of our aspirations.

Our research shows that closing The Gap takes leadership from the many, not the few. Real progress on the toughest challenges facing your company or community requires more people looking at The Gap, voicing concerns and aspirations, balancing pragmatism and idealism.

In leading any change, you will encounter barriers. If you don’t understand where they come from and address them, you make things more difficult. In your efforts to close The Gap, the following five barriers are the most common:

  1. Navigate Loss. Change requires loss, and we don’t like that.
  2. Reorder Values. When progress stalls, there could be a values clash that you are not aware of.
  3. Resist the Allure of a Quick Fix. Avoid band-aides.
  4. You Need More than Authority (Leadership from the many, not the few.)
  5. Manage Risk. “Leadership is an activity that involves mobilizing people to let go of habits and norms that no longer serve them.”

Once you acknowledge and identify The Gap, you will make more progress when you do these five things:

  1. Authorize Yourself to Lead. It is a choice. Lead from where you are. “Leadership is a self-authorizing activity. No one else can authorize you to lead. Other people can tell you they want you to lead. They can put you in what they call a ‘leadership position’ (what we call an authority position). But only you can make the intentional decision to try to exercise leadership.
  2. Start with Your Leadership Challenge. “Focusing on a common leadership challenge allows everyone to see and seize their moments to lead.”
  3. Start Where You Have Influence. “No one leads everywhere, so we need everyone leading somewhere. Major change occurs because enough people, in different spheres, lead where they have influence.”
  4. Start with Your Part of the Mess. “Every time someone authentically asks themselves ‘What’s my part of this mess?’—and pauses long enough to hear the answer—they generate the possibility of their own leadership, marshaling the one variable they can control. Progress is usually just around the corner.”
  5. Start Engaging Others. Don’t try to go it alone. “Because there are many ways to look at a problem or challenge, engaging others—especially those who have different perspectives and share different values—illuminates the situation.”

Keep in mind, if there is no heat—if people don’t feel uncomfortable—there is no motivation to engage and change. No one will move if the heat in a situation is too low. You have to manage the heat. There has to be enough heat for people to change but not so much that they engage in unproductive behaviors. Too much heat and a flight, fight or freeze response kicks in. The right amount of heat fosters curiosity and learning.

The authors have tried to share lessons from their specific work at the Kansas Leadership Center to inspire engagement for leading change on tough issues. While some declarative statements miss the nuances of leading, their approach is spot on. If you are apprehensive about stepping up and leading, then you will be encouraged to act after reading the examples and principles found in When Everyone Leads.

* * *

Follow us on Instagram and Twitter for additional leadership and personal development ideas.

* * *


Explore More

You Dont Need A Title Greatness Guide 5 Lessons

Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:59 AM
| Comments (0) | This post is about Change



Books to Read

Best Books of 2022


Leadership Books
How to Do Your Start-Up Right

Explore More

Leadership Books
Grow Your Leadership Skills

Leadership Minute
Leadership Minute

Leadership Classics
Classic Leadership Books

Get the LEAD:OLOGY Newsletter delivered to your inbox.    
Follow us on: Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Instagram

© 2023 LeadershipNow™

All materials contained in https://www.LeadershipNow.com are protected by copyright and trademark laws and may not be used for any purpose whatsoever other than private, non-commercial viewing purposes. Derivative works and other unauthorized copying or use of stills, video footage, text or graphics is expressly prohibited. The Amazon links on this page are affiliate links. If you click through and purchase, we will receive a small commission on the sale. This link is provided for your convenience and importantly, help to support our work here. We appreciate your use of these links.