Effective leaders make a difference. They have the power to influence, and they use that power to build trust. If you're at the top of the organizational chart, that power is built into your position. It's your job to move people to action and create a trusting environment. But as any effective leader knows, a "license to lead" isn't enough. It may give you the authority to direct people in your organization, but it doesn't magically confer the power to inspire them. Only you can develop that power, by being conscious of how you fulfill the different leadership roles outlined above.
Perhaps you're at a place a little lower on the company ladder. Just because you haven't been given a license to lead doesn't mean you don't have that power. You may not be able to dictate strategy, but you can lead in smaller, yet nonetheless important, ways. In fact, members of Accountable Organizations consistently seek opportunities to lead within their spheres of influence. It doesn't take a title to make you a leader. Consider this insight from Joseph Badaracco:
The vast majority of difficult, important human problems—both inside and outside organizations—are not solved by a swift, decisive stroke from someone at the top. What usually matters are careful, thoughtful, small, practical efforts by people working far from the limelight. In short, quiet leadership is what moves the world.
As you go about your business, day in and day out, how do you embrace the different qualities of effective leadership? How do you wield your influence? How do you seek to make a difference? No matter where you are in your organization, you can build trust through your actions. You can show others what it means to be accountable. You can be a guardian of your organization's integrity—and of your own. Whether people follow your lead is not up to them. It's up to you.
BUILDING THE ACCOUNTABLE ORGANIZATION
Joseph L. Badaracco Jr., Leading Quietly (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002), 9.