I’ve thought about the most impactful leaders in my life.
Most didn’t have crazy job positions. They didn’t have high status, tons of money in their bank account, nor did they have the most massive following. So who were these leaders that impacted me the most and why? My grandfather owned Flower’s Conoco, a service station out by the base. He hired men who had gone to prison when no one else would. He gave people a chance, when others would so easily overlook them. He searched for the good in people and spoke it into existence. He was just a poor kid without a father who grew up being the very father, friend, boss, and leader, he himself never had.
He was the kind of man who lived a message of “no man left behind” and would give you the shirt off his back. He took all of the neighborhood kids on vacations when their own parents were working, or couldn’t afford it, or simply weren’t present in their lives. He opened his home to tons of airmen and gave them a place to stay when they had nowhere else to go. I share this because true leadership goes outside the confines of upbringing and present status and goes beyond experience and immediate recognition. People assume leaders are always in front, but I’ve learned that true leaders are right there with you. They walk with you right where you’re at. And many times, they’re the ones in the very back, in order to make sure no one else falls behind. There’s this quote that says “those who are first will be last and those who are last will be first.” I believe this exemplifies true leadership.
True leaders are willing to scrub the toilets, serve behind the scenes, give you the shirt off their backs, and be last whether it is in status, power, or recognition. They are willing to get messy WITH people regardless of the outcome. So if you always feel like you’re last in line, you might actually be first. The craziest thing is, sometimes you don’t know you are leading until years later. You might not have realized what an impact you made on the lives of those around you until one day, someone comes to you and thanks you for who you were. That is what a true leader is. It’s not necessarily what they did so much as who they are when they were doing it. Being a leader requires tons of sacrifice, selflessness, and humility. It is a constant dying to yourself in order to help others truly be alive in their living. Sometimes leadership will cost you your reputation, your title, and your popularity; but it will also gain the respect of those who are quietly waiting for you to lead.
– Aubray Scott