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Everyone is a Leader

By Ryan VanderWijst and Taylor Duffy

Continuous growth is critical to career development. This seems like an obvious statement, but when dealing with our typical hectic schedules, it can be tough to find time to regularly dedicate to self-development. Lifelong learning and a natural curiosity are common interests among employees at SimVentions, so we often work together to find opportunities to share our knowledge with each other. One such opportunity takes place in the form of a monthly class called SimV Academy – a 90-minute, peer led training session where topics range from cyber security to presentation skills. The class is an opportunity to learn about a new topic, but also allows the volunteer instructor to share something they are passionate about.

In January, Ryan VanderWijst hosted an Academy on Leadership entitled, “Lead from Anywhere: Leadership Principles for Everyone.” During the class, Ryan shared thoughts on the material he learned while attending Leadership Fredericksburg, a 9-month course offered annually by the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce. During the session, the class participated in some interactive exercises which exposed traits of good and bad leaders. Ryan also shared leadership nuggets that resonated with him, while emphasizing the fact that leaders are everywhere in the company and are not only determined by the organizational chart. Below are some of the principles Ryan shared during the class about leadership:

Leadership is a lot like ballet. When performed well, it is the epitome of grace and elegance, invokes calmness and serenity, and is inspirational, encouraging, and uplifting. What people often do not see are the blisters, callouses, and the thousands of hours of preparation behind the scenes. It may seem easy or glamorous from the outside, but being a good leader takes hard work and persistence. The good news is that leadership, like any other skill, is something that can be developed over time.

Leadership is, “The art of influencing a person or group to perform at levels which exceed that which would be performed without the leader’s influence.” Two important aspects of leadership which must be developed and managed are intelligence and power. There are different types of intelligence, but the most critical to leadership is Emotional Intelligence, since leadership always involves people and communication. There are also several different types of power – only one of which is determined by the org chart. This shows us that we all have opportunities to lead – at home, in the community, in church, and at work.

We all have different roles, skillsets, knowledge, and insights, which gives all of us the opportunity to be leaders in our organizations. Because of this, it is important for everyone to understand what they bring to the table and to take intentional steps to lead with purpose. Here are 7 examples of how to lead from anywhere in the organization, regardless of position, which can also be referred to as “leading up:”

  • Lead by example (communicate, listen, be persistent).
  • Manage yourself exceptionally well.
  • Be willing to take on what others won’t.
  • Take ownership.
  • Take responsibility for success.
  • Be growth oriented, not only goal oriented.
  • Know when to push and when to back off.

Regardless of where you sit in an organization, remember that it is not only important to be goal oriented but also growth oriented – it is the latter philosophy that will ensure that you never get bored. Because of your knowledge and contributions, people depend on you. It does not matter whether you are the President of a large company or a junior employee in a small business – you are a leader.