The dictionary defines an executive as someone who has administrative, or supervisory authority within an organization. A leader is defined as simply one who leads.
I’ve been blessed throughout my career to have encountered some of the best leaders in the business world. Many of these leaders took a personal interest in me and my development. The coached me. Guided me. Taught me. They invested in me. These same leaders who I once worked for have become mentors later in my career. They are the same people I turn to for coaching and advice today who taught me years ago. They stood by my side then and they’re still with me today.
From them I learned the importance of kindness, and the power of paying it forward in the business world. And just how do you pay it forward in the business world? By leading. Just as I had someone take an interest in developing me, I too have taken people under my wing to teach them. Leadership is about giving not taking. Taking is easy. Giving is tough.
Leaders inspire. They provide vision. They create excitement. Leaders instill trust. They stand firm in the face of adversity. They provide strength and confidence. Leaders create an environment where learning takes center stage. They have a beginners attitude. I’ve worked for plenty of executives who believe they know everything, yet I’ve never worked for a leader who behaved that way. Leaders know that to continue leading they must continue to learn. When the learning stops, so does the leading.
The good news is that it’s a choice. It’s a conscious choice to lead. It takes time, courage, discipline, a sense of humor, and perhaps most importantly leadership takes commitment. Commitment to keep learning, to keep teaching, to keep giving. I’ll take a leader any day of the week over an executive.