You would be hard pressed to find a Christian who does not hold some level of respect for Paul. What earned this respect? Could it be that Paul was gifted with words? He was a great preacher but I think this level of respect is formed out of something else. I think that Paul’s leadership is what…
All too often, we wait until ideal conditions appear before we show up at our best. We promise to display more initiative once we get the promotion, become a superb teammate once we get the raise and do world-class work once we receive the applause. But true leadership is about doing you’re absolute best under imperfect conditions. And leading where you are planted. An example.
On my last speaking tour, the final event was in Johannesburg. Post-workshop, our CEO and myself went out for a meal in Nelson Mandela Square. The sun was shining, the food was pretty good, the service was fine. But it was the awesome display of one distinct Leader Without a Title that still resonates in my mind. And that I need to tell you about.
As I walked into the washroom, I was greeted by a young man with a 1000 watt smile. His job was clearly to keep the place clean. Some would call him a janitor. But to me, he viewed himself as an inventor… innovating and iterating within his sphere of responsibility.
“Welcome to my office,” he spoke, with a sparkle in his eyes. “It’s nice to have you visit.” His uniform was impeccable. His counters were immaculate. And his manners, superb. He could have made excuses to deny his enthusiasm. Could have complained about the base position, the lack of authority, the limited power. But he didn’t.
Instead, he assumed his power-to influence all those he met, to impact others by his excellent example, and to inspire all by transcending his conditions. This young man did his work like Rembrandt painted, Beckham bends the ball, like Colombus explored.
My true point? No job is just a job, unless it’s viewed as just a job. All work is a platform to express creative potential, offer value and make a unique contribution. But we each face a choice each day as we walk out into the world: we can play a victim or we can step up to leadership. And in this messy, disrupted world we now work within, leadership at every level has become the single best way to win.
Keep Leading Without A Title.