Written by Erin Fulton, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder at Caravan Health.

Oftentimes, when we hear the word ‘leader’ we conjure a particular image. Sometimes it is a person dressed in business attire or someone presenting in front of a large audience. For some, they think of someone dressed in military attire or an athlete standing on the podium wearing a gold medal after winning a competition. Those people may indeed be leaders, however, there are other leaders that may initially go undetected. For example, the person in your mirror.
 
Leaders are often recognized as the managers and executives on corporate leadership teams, but those positions do not necessarily mean they are effective leaders. In this regard, a leader is neither a job title nor a box in the organizational chart. A leader may not be sitting at the head of the table – but she can be recognized as the person sought out for advice, guidance, and suggestions.
 
As our nation moves toward the recovery phase of the pandemic and new opportunities are likely to surface, there is no better time than now to reimagine what an effective leader looks like. Regardless of your role or title, start to replace the image you have of a leader with an image of yourself every day, doing your job. Envision yourself on a call with a client, advising another employee on how to perform a task, or teaching a new co-worker how to access a file. As you go about your job, you can cultivate effective leadership skills in every task.
 
Leadership in Action
The word ‘leader’ is always a noun but like its root word ‘lead’ we should try and use it as a verb. At Caravan Health we recognize that many of our employees are leaders but may not necessarily be on the executive leadership team. Every employee at Caravan has within them to be a leader in any role and at any time. Whenever we help a fellow co-worker, listen to a peer, and offer advice, provide thoughts on a solution to a problem or email a client with an answer to their question, we are exemplifying the skills of a leader.
 
I am often asked how one becomes a leader. My belief is that the most important thing anyone can and should do to be a leader, is to get involved in serving others in the best way possible and to be accountable for solving problems. Everyone has the ability in their jobs, to master these two things. These two actions will serve as a foundation to start to hone leadership skills and demonstrate to others that you are a person who can help them achieve their goals and/or help the organization meet objectives. These two things will start to position you as someone who is regarded as a leader.
 
A Title Does Not Define You as a Leader
A leader cannot give themself the role or title rather, the role of a leader is given by others. We all know people in positions of authority who are not regarded as a leader and we also know people who are not managers, yet everyone seeks their counsel, advice, and direction. The former has the title, but the latter is the leader.
 
As you work to strengthen your leadership skills and focus on performing the acts of a leader, you will become the person who can lead others. Rather than pondering what classes, books or job promotions can place you on a leadership path, think about how you can demonstrate leadership in your current role, how you serve those around you and demonstrate accountability. By committing to becoming a leader in your current role, your unique leadership style will emerge, and your professional journey will start to unfold before your eyes.

 

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