Column: Leader? Really?


Commentary by Randy Wheeler 

I’m speaking to employees in their organization and ask: “Are you a leader?”

A few hands shoot confidently in the air, others are raised hesitantly while some individuals avoid eye contact.


“Do any of you interact with anyone?”  I ask.

A chuckle arises from some as all the hands go up in the air. Why ask these questions? I was helping each of them realize they are leaders since leadership is influence.

Within an organization or team, individuals may have a title or position and are formally considered leaders. Some are truly influential leaders and some are not. Then, there is another group of people who don’t even realize they are leading. These are the followers. These are the individuals who believe in the overall cause of the organization or team but do not necessarily want a title or position.  These individuals are listened to by most and have influence among their peers.  They are leaders.

Now, I must clarify that every individual constantly influences in either a positive or negative direction by their actions, words and attitude. How can we all lead better, either at work or at home?

Connect: Leadership expert John Maxwell calls it “walking slowly through the crowd.” Think of ways to connect with those you formally or informally lead, as that will increase trust.

Encourage: Someone uncharacteristically performing poorly, check to see if something else is going on.

Listen: If you are a doer like me, then this is hard.  Slow down to listen at a level that you are not thinking about your next sentence, and people will know you care.

We are constantly influencing and constantly leading.  What is one way you can connect, encourage, or listen better with those you lead today?

Randy Wheeler lives in Fishers with his family and does leadership development with organizations, teams and individuals. He can be reached at

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