[caption id=“attachment_1046” align=“aligncenter” width=“780”]is leadership an obligation Looking west from Paseo del Volcan, Albuquerque, NM[/caption]

Not all leaders are anointed, headhunted, or groomed. Now, more than ever, anyone who decides to lead is a leader.

Which means the next question has to be:

Is leadership an obligation?

  1. If you can help someone who’s facing a problem you’ve faced in the past, is it okay if you decide not to?
  2. If you have insight to share with your colleagues and you keep it to yourself, is that fine?
  3. If you could push for positive change but you choose instead to preserve the status quo, is there a problem?
  4. If you could recommend a book or podcast to someone who needs some inspiration, are you failing them if you do nothing?
  5. If you could have a frank conversation with a friend who needs to hear some hard truth, should you?
  6. If you could be building skills that would help you change your entire industry in ten years, do you have to?
  7. If you’ve spent 25 years accumulating deep institutional memory and you choose not to share it with your new boss, is that acceptable?

Questions like this make us uncomfortable. Here’s another way to ask the same questions:

  1. If you help someone who can’t help you back, does that make you generous?
  2. If you speak up in a meeting with your boss’ boss and her fellow VPs, should you be proud of yourself?
  3. If you design a better way to do your job, even though the current way “works well enough,” are you giving a gift?
  4. If you order a book for a colleague (instead of just recommending it), are you going above and beyond?
  5. If you tell a friend what they need to hear but sacrifice your relationship in the process, is that true friendship?
  6. If you take night classes to improve your skills with public speaking, data, or web development, are you only investing in your own future, or will others benefit too?
  7. If you compile everything you know about your job in a 15-page shared Google Doc before you retire or leave your position, are you leading?

Leadership is a responsibility and an opportunity, and it’s now open to anyone.

If you can lead (and you can), you should.