What Really Is Leadership?

Within our school and within our society, leadership seems to be a new buzzword– Regina has the “Leadership Institute,” colleges like to see ‘leadership’ on applications, and women are taking more ‘leadership’ positions.

When we envision leaders, we often think of Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton, or another person who has done groundbreaking work in their field and influenced the lives of many people. In these contexts, we can often be intimidated by leadership, as leadership seems to be a situation in which one must take charge, and successfully direct a group of people towards a common goal.

Everything seems to lying on the shoulders of a leader, and this idea can be terrifying. Yet, this is not the only way someone can be a leader–in fact, it is much simpler than we realized. When we take time to understand the core characteristics of a leader, we can come to understand that leadership is, genuinely, for just about anyone.

When trying to truly define leadership, Merriam Webster is particularly unhelpful–according to their website, leadership is simply a “capacity to lead”. We might then ask, what does it mean ‘to lead’? It tells us, “to direct on a course or in a direction”. Put it all together, and leadership means “the capacity to direct on a course or in a direction.” In common terms, “the ability to guide someone in a new direction.”

The ability to guide someone in a new direction– that doesn’t seem so hard, does it? Think about the infinite amount of ways someone can guide someone else in a new direction. A person can answer someone else’s question, can open the door for them, or just be themselves, and inspire others through their own example. When the context of stress and grave importance is removed from leadership, then it can be understood that it is accessible to anyone.

For instance, Deanna Stone ’16, defines a leader as “someone who puts other’s needs before their own, and always tries to help the people around them. They are the people that try to right the wrongs in life, and they put effort into their passions.” 

Leadership, in its simplest form, is when one person inspires an action in another person.”

This invigorating approach to leadership demonstrates just how leadership can be a part of one’s everyday life. Deanna, herself, can follow her passions as a thespian, be her naturally caring and generous self, and still be a leader. It may not fit the conventional definition, but by just being Deanna, she inspires those around her everyday to be as compassionate as she is, which characterizes her as a leader.

Another example of everyday leaders within the Regina community are our teachers. As Deanna says, “They love helping us learn about many different subjects, and they truly want to see us succeed.”

This giving of time, talent, and passion is another way that a person can be a leader. Simply striving to help another person succeed and helping to give them the tools to do so is an example of leadership.

Joan Kitchie ’77, Vice President of Advancement, explains that a leader is someone “who successfully influences others towards a common goal or purpose.”

She also adds that “Children, knowingly or unknowingly, are leaders for their parents. I have had huge personal growth because of the experiences, both good and bad, my children have given me, and they have definitely helped shape me into being a better person.”

Every person is a child, a friend, a family member, a classmate, a coworker, or part of a community. Throughout our daily experiences, as Mrs. Kitchie said, we have influence on the people around us, whether we recognize it or not. These influences, in all kinds of ways, make people leaders.

Although many times a leader seems only to be the person up on stage or whose name is in the announcements, leaders truly do come in all shapes and sizes.Leadership, in its simplest form, is when one person inspires an action in another person.

These actions may be conscious or unconscious, noticed by others or not, have great impact, or have barely any. But in any case, the person who inspired the other is a leader. Any single person has the capacity to inspire another person to do or be something they weren’t before. In this way, this is really what leadership is, and truly anyone can be a leader.