When I was informed that I was being recognized last year as one of the Top 20 under 40 professionals in Northwest Indiana, I was honored and humbled. Looking back to the list of previous honorees, it was truly impressive and encouraging to see the caliber of local young leaders we have across our community – not to mention the host of other young leaders out there who have yet to be recognized.
My first reaction, like many of the other young professionals, was “Wow, how can I be compared to this person, or that person? They’ve accomplished so much in their early lives and careers.” But, that’s the sort of healthy attitude necessary for us to continue raising the bar. Witnessing the success of others inspires us to keep the positive momentum going.
It is our responsibility to continually help make this region an even better place to live, work and play. If we as young leaders aren’t prepared to grab the torch being passed along by those we look up to today, then who will? In my view, being considered a leader doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be the head of your organization or elected as a top official in your community. Not everyone falls into that category of leadership.
If you’re volunteering your time and resources to help others, or if you’re helping someone bring a good idea to life, you’re a leader. And, if you’re serving as a positive role model for others to follow, you’re a leader. Having recently become a new father has enhanced my perspective on leadership, and I believe there are several core similarities between good parenting and leadership.
As a parent, your children rely on you for so many different things. Good parents are supportive, but not too supportive. There are no empty promises. They know that actions mean more than words. And, good parents are always looking for ways to provide more opportunities and a better life for their family.
Those same principles are inherent in great leaders as well.
And, regardless of whether or not you’re a parent, we cannot forget to start developing and supporting the next generation. We never want to be perceived as a complacent generation, nor do we wish the same of those that follow. I am fortunate to work for an organization that fosters and encourages its employees to get involved in their local communities. It is a unilateral philosophy spread across the entire organization.
Through my company and community involvement, I have learned the importance of knowing what type of leader you are and being confident in your decisions. For young leaders and professionals, those are important qualities. We all have the ability to be a leader in some form. In fact, I’ve met so many people that are great leaders, but they don’t realize it.
So, whether or not you realize you’re a leader, you have the unique opportunity to change the lives of others and to create a fulfilling life for yourself. Just don’t take that responsibility lightly.