I once heard leadership described as the quality of influencing others to do something they otherwise might not have done. This is one of my favorite ways of defining leadership because it makes no mention of authority. While it is true that many leaders do indeed have authority, it is certainly not a requirement. We all know individuals who have authority but no leadership and very little influence. We also know many outstanding leaders who have no formal authority at all. These are the ones whom I admire the most. I, for one, am not impressed by mere titles, roles, or resumes. I am impressed by character, passion, and excellence. I am impressed by women and men who have the drive and the courage to doggedly pursue their very best self. These ones are the true leaders because they transform their communities and draw out the very best from their neighbors.
So how does one become a great leader? By serving, of course. It might sound surprising, but collecting accolades or pursuing roles of authority might actually be a disadvantage because it can become difficult for others to muddle through what we do in order to see who we are. Many sacred texts have much to say on this matter. In the Christian tradition, the book of Philippians teaches us to do nothing from selfish ambition or vain conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than ourselves. And several times in the gospels, Jesus teaches that to become the greatest, we must become the least.
Great leaders serve. And when they do, others are influenced to serve as well; something they might not have otherwise done. Make no mistake: every person here is called to lead. We have all been tasked with influencing others to become stronger, braver, healthier versions of themselves.