“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” You see this quote from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (aka Channing Tatum’s speech at the end of its film adaptation She’s the Man) in practically every generic article you read about leadership. The article goes like this: a reference to Martin Luther King Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi or Winston Churchill, a list of traits we like in our leaders—communicative, perceptive, knowledgeable, brave, compassionate, etc.—and finally a few simple steps that everyone can take to become a better leader. That’s all there is to leadership, right?
The problem with this write-up on leadership (in addition to being generic) is that it assumes that only people in an acknowledged place of power—the CEOs, politicians, activists and celebrities of the world—are the only real leaders (that matter). They’re the ones saving/killing the world, after all!
So how can the rest of us follow this advice to be a great leader like Martin Luther King Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi or Winston Churchill if we aren’t saving/killing the world? **Cue cricket noises.**
The fact is that how our culture thinks of leadership—especially in the workforce—is all wrong. Leaders aren’t heroes—they are everyday people doing their jobs and doing them well.
Where the Real Power Resides
Ever hear of “power behind the throne”? The President of the United States’ may be the most powerful person in the world, but she or he can’t run the country and lead the world alone. That’s why they rely on their Chief of Staff (formerly called the Assistant to the President and the President’s private secretary). The Chief of Staff—responsible for both managerial and advisory roles—is known as the Gatekeeper to the President and the de facto second in command at the White House, though the Chief of Staff has no legal powers.
Sound a bit familiar? Office Ninjas know that though power may come from the top, leadership can come from anywhere. And as the gatekeepers of their company, Ninjas know that they are more than the perceptions around their job title.
In our new leadership series, we seek to rethink what leadership means when you aren’t the one in charge (officially). How can you be a good leader when you aren’t the leader? Are you a different type of leader than our culture’s go-to examples? Is there a generational divide on what makes a good leader? Most importantly, we want to learn what leadership means to Office Ninjas, to the leaders whose leadership is quiet, but just as powerful.
MEET OUR NINJA LEADERS
Each week (for the next few weeks), we’ll introduce you to a true Ninja leader—exploring what makes them the leaders they are, how their approach to and thoughts on leadership vary by generation, and what you can learn from their experience.
Considered a pioneer in the Silicon Valley admin world, Joanne was a natural choice. With over 30 years of experience, she’s incredibly accomplished and is always ready and willing to share helpful advice and insights with other professionals in the admin world.
Melissa is remarkably forward-thinking with an entrepreneurial drive and spirit. She’s a thoughtful OfficeNinjas Ambassador Leader, and is proactive in pursuing her goals and speaking her mind. By voicing her opinion with care and consideration she encourages lively and engaging conversations.
As an OfficeNinjas advisor and a Program Leader for the OfficeNinjas Ambassador Program, we just knew we had to hear Crystal’s thoughts on leadership. She’s extremely encouraging and motivating, falls easily into a mentorship role when necessary, and always seeks innovative ways to make things better.
Of course, we’re all about quality conversation! As we roll out Q&As with these amazing Office Ninja leaders, the psychology behind leadership styles and powerful, behind-the-scenes leaders in history, we’d love to hear your thoughts throughout the series. Use the hashtag #NinjaLeadership in your Tweets and posts about the leadership series to add your genius voice to the conversation!
What’s the quality you value most in an inspiring leader? Let us know in the comments or by using #NinjaLeadership!