Leadership is all around us

I’ve always been fascinated by the concept and application of leadership. One thing I’ve learnt in life is leadership is not only possible by those who are super confident, good looking and rich.

If we look closely there are unassuming leaders all around us; some in places which may seem rather unlikely.

Let us look at some of the examples of leaders, who are out there leading this very moment as a guide to how you too can be a leader.

And on what scale you would like to lead is entirely up to you. It can really be that small or that big.

Yes, you did read correctly.

Leaders of local car wash businesses

Over here in the UK, there are a numerous car wash establishments. I have been going to one in particular for the last 7 years. The main reason I go to this one is the people working there are extremely hardworking and are very good at washing my car. Underlying the employees working there is a leader. This individual stands out from the rest. I constantly see him assertively giving instructions to his employees in a language I don’t understand. When customers come, he will smile and have a quick chat with each one to see how they are.

Lessons from this type of leadershipLeaders of local car washes give instructions confidently to their employees and are also the main customer facing person in the organisation.

Religious leaders

If you walk into a Church, a Temple, a Mosque, a Synagogue or any other building of prayer, you will find a leader. This can include individuals such as Vicars, Priests, Imans and Rabbis. Such individuals lead prayers and congregations. Lay people usually look up to such people to lead ceremonies such as christenings, weddings and funerals. People usually feel they can confide and talk about personal matters with such religious leaders.

Lessons from this type of leadership – Religious leaders make themselves available to the people they lead and use their knowledge of certain areas to lead activities, which can have a big impact on people’s lives.

Teachers in schools

Teachers are an extremely important part of a child’s development early on in life and are often strong role models for children. For this reason teachers are natural leaders. The bigger the class the bigger number of children there are to lead.

Lessons from this type of leadership – Teachers have the ability to communicate to large groups and also talk on an individual basis. They can instruct and put their foot down when required if behaviour is not aligned with the discipline they expect.

Life Coaches

Life coaches help people become unstuck from problems, to help them live better and more wholesome lives. A person who has decided to seek help from a life coach is usually willing to take a ‘student’ position and allow the life coach to help her/him.

Lessons from this type of leadership – Life coaches demonstrates their ability to lead through talking a person through their problem and depending on the situation, either subtly or in a more pronounced way, suggest and persuade alternative ways of thinking and behaving to that individual.

Local entrepreneurs who develop and launch new products

A local entrepreneur is someone from your community who has an idea of a new product. At this stage it is just an idea in his/her head. As this person ponders and wants this idea to become real, the individual then sets out to make it so. This may include writing a business plan, doing market research to validate the idea, and then finding the resources to develop and launch the product.

Lessons from this type of leadership – The local entrepreneur is visionary and understands that in order to achieve something of value, one needs to have a vision of what they want first; and then they can figure out the details of how it will be done.

The neighbour who is putting up his/her own shed

DIY activities are excellent examples of leadership on a smaller scale. For instance, you might have a neighbour who is putting up his/her own shed in the garden. The neighbour (like the local entrepreneur who has a vision) has an idea of what he/she wants the shed to look like and where to place it. After purchasing the shed, the neighbour proceeds to put up the shed and does so over 1 week. You might also see a partner helping to put up the shed.

Lessons from this type of leadership – The neighbour has demonstrated strong project management abilities and is not afraid to work in a team.

Your turn

  • How can you use the leadership skills demonstrated by the leaders in this post to lead in particular aspects of your life?
  • What activities in life are you currently leading and how exactly are you leading?
  • What others types of unlikely leaders can you think of?
  • Please share your valuable views and experiences in the comments box below.


Photo Credit: MDGovpics

  1. What great examples you shared Hiten and now I guess it’s my turn right.

    Well, I’m going to stumble horribly over this one because this entire time I’ve been online I’ve never pictured myself as a leader. I think that “term” scared me the most because to me it meant that I had to lead people to success. I’ve soon learned that’s not the case at all.

    That by me sharing information that I have learned and giving them direction, the action steps are totally up to them which in turn will result in their outcome.

    I think overall I would fall under the category of the entrepreneur who has the vision and knows the actionable steps to take in order to achieve that. I’m slowly but surely getting there now that I’m working on that aspect of me. It’s been a very long road Hiten.

    1. Hi Adrienne,

      Thank you so much for sharing your experiences of leadership and of where you see yourself in terms of the different types of leaders.

      With regards to being scared of the term leader, I can relate to this and I also appreciate the point you made about previously believing it to involve leading people to success. I was the same until I learnt this was not how it is.

      One person who really opened my eyes in terms of online or “digital leadership” is Seth Godin. He really planted the seed in my mind, that people who had blogs and developed a readership were leaders or at least becoming.

      You sound very similar to me, Adrienne. My own approach is also that of an entrepreneur, where I like to imagine what could be possible and then carry out what needs to be done to realise the vision. With regards to what needs to be done, I then default to the neighbour putting up his/her own shed.

      I firmly believe anything is possible. It’s been a fairly slow path for me too, and I’m continuously learning.

      In fact, I like to view leadership as another learning experience and am enjoying the journey of becoming.

      Thanks again for commenting and sharing your views on this topic. 🙂

    2. Adrienne, you’re a phenomenal leader 🙂

      1. Hi Jason,

        I agree with you. Adrienne is a phenomenal leader and is modest with it too. This is another great quality! 🙂

  2. Hi Hiten,

    I love your list of leaders and how you shared their positive qualities. I was a teacher for many years and everything you mentioned was true, from instruction to discipline, we wore many hats in the classroom. Leadership can come in many forms from leading a large group to being a mom organizing her children. For any leader having the vision is important as well as being able to work with a group. I believe people are not born leaders, people can learn to be a leader over time. Thanks for a great post!

    1. Hi Cathy,

      Absolutely, teachers wear so many hats at school, it really is amazing! It is a wonderful profession and one that definitely takes a certain kind of person to do.

      Thank you so much for mentioning another very important leader, which is a mother looking after her kids. Indeed, parenting is such a vital form of leadership in its own right.

      Yes, leaders definitely know how to operate alone, using their own initiative, while at the same time are not shy to seek help from a wider group. One thing I used to read in books about leadership and have come to know through experience is a leader needs support and should ask for it when required.

      We may think we can do everything ourselves, but rarely is this the case! 🙂

      Like you, I too firmly believe leaders can be made. If history has showed us one thing about leadership, it is this very thing.

      Thanks a lot for sharing your valuable experiences and views Cathy. I appreciate your support.

  3. Hiiten,
    I really enjoyed reading this post. I fit into the teacher leadership category (I teach preschool at our local elementary school.). Your lessons from a teacher are perfect – able to handle large or small, sometimes just individual groups and being able to handle the group with discipline. Loved reading your lessons about all the different types of leaders. I see them, too, among my 4 and 5 year old. Leadership can start very young, too.
    Great post!

    1. Hi Betsy,

      I’m really glad you enjoyed the post!

      Thank you for sharing your views on how you see yourself. As I said in my response to Cathy, teachers are tremendous leaders. It really must be amazing to see the leadership potential of so many young children, as you’re able to do! 🙂

      I’m excited just thinking about it!

      Thanks a lot for commenting, Betsy. I appreciate you adding your thoughts on this area.

  4. An interesting expose on leadership types Hiten. Do these leaders have a common trait?
    Is it a strong belief for example or do they perhaps lead by example?
    I was always determined to lead by example and to encourage others to follow, by supporting them & developing their own individual talents…get them to believe that they could do whatever…
    Thankyou my good man. I imagine you are getting ready for Olympic fever. Will be good to see us take a few ‘gold’ off you guys
    be good to yourself

    1. Hi David,

      Thank you so much for adding a very interesting dimension to this post, which is the common trait between these different types of leaders.

      I believe a leader needs to have a good mixture of both leading by example combined with a belief that what he/she is doing is worthwhile.

      Indeed, I’m like you. As someone who grew up with problems, and then learning to overcome them, I guess I too can fall into the category of leading by example. If we are able to achieve something, then we provide a model, which others can follow or aspire to, in order to achieve the same and more.

      Thank you for commenting, my friend.

      Yes, I’m looking for forward to London 2012! 80 days to go and counting! 🙂

      I have no problem with you lot taking a few off of us. Let us wait until the final medals table and we’ll see who comes out on top! 🙂

      Take care, David.

  5. I agree that leadership is really around us, within thy self starts it and we need to make things possible to become a great person who can leads someone else…

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      Thanks for your comment. I agree that leadership starts within us. I believe each of us have a seed inside us, which can be sprouted into leadership.

      Thanks for commenting Jennifer! 🙂

  6. I love this exploration, Hiten. It’s a great way to notice the myriad opportunities that abound for leadership. One need not be a President or a General to be a leader with grand life purpose. Every great leader must succeed at being authentic first. Real success requires authenticity.Only when you succeed at being your Authentic Self, can you truly succeed at being happy. Only when you succeed at expressing your original nature, do you really succeed in any domain of your life, be it in business, relationship matters, spiritual matters, you name it.

    1. Hi Rob,

      I’m really glad you liked the post! I’m grateful for your words of appreciation.

      You have added a fantastic angle to this post, which is the importance of being authentic first.

      Indeed, leading from a position of being completely true to oneself, can only impact positively on those who follow us. It builds trust in others and makes it easier for us to lead them in the direction we want to.

      Thanks for your brilliant comment Rob! It’s great to see you here. 🙂

  7. Hi Hilton!

    My brother is a teach and I find him to be one of the best leaders, why? because he is teaching our future leaders. He is being a mentor to these students and they’re not paying him any sort of great dollar amount. As much as I love leaders, I have a hard time with a bunch of people who pretend to havethe experience and knowledge enough to tell me how I should lead my life. However, I’m commenting here because you’re a voice I do trust. I’m just letting you know. This is how I think of ‘leaders.’ Very cautious I am.

    1. Hi Jonathan,

      I loved how you described your brother as being one of the best leaders! Indeed, educators like him are teaching the leaders of tomorrow, and giving them the foundation they need to rise to leadership roles.

      Absolutely, I also do not appreciate people who have had no experience in leadership giving advice to others on how they should lead. However, I do truly admire those who have led in a particular endeavour against all the odds, and who share their story with the world. This is extremely inspirational.

      Thanks a lot for adding your valuable views to this post! Much appreciated. 🙂

  8. Cheers to this, Hiten.

    I love your focus on leadership “all around us” and as a ‘life-coach’ and entrepreneur, I’m thrilled to be part of the group 🙂

    I consider myself a “thought-leader” and consider my blog posts to lead the way on a variety of topics (especially the one’s no one will talk about about like money, sex, fame, etc.)

    1. Hi Jason,

      Thank you so much for dropping by here and for leaving your fantastic comment! 🙂

      Yes, I believe you to be “thought-leader” too! One of the things I love most about your blog is your ability to write about and spark discussion on topics which others wouldn’t dare! 🙂

      Thank you for being you, my friend.

  9. Leadership is definitely a very important matter especially in business.. Well businessmen are already aware with it but this post is a big help as well..

    1. Hi Jhenny,

      I’m glad you found this post helpful and thank you for your comment! 🙂

      It’s always good to see you.

  10. Excellent post, Hiten — a great reminder that leadership is not solely the domain of people with “leadership titles”. As we say at the leadership institute where I work, everybody has the potential to be a leader in some way. Some forward-thinking schools, for example, are realizing this. Rather than reserving leadership training for the very best students, they are actually building leadership into the curriculum for every student in the school. It’s a smart move that will help many students who probably never thought of themselves as leaders dig much deeper into their potential for the rest of their lives.

    1. Hi Stephen,

      I’m really glad you liked the post, my friend! 🙂

      Your comment reminded me of the post I wrote about teaching life skills to children in schools. The same could also be said for teaching leadership at schools as well.

      I really do hope that schools locally are becoming more ‘forward-thinking’ as you put it, and are teaching and nurturing leadership in children of all personalities and backgrounds.

      I loved what you say at your leadership institute about how everybody has the potential to be a leader in some way. Such messages should be broadcasted all over the world! 🙂

      Many thanks for commenting and sharing your insights on this topic.

  11. Hey Hiten,

    You included great examples and explanations on how every normal person is a leader. I think the most important kind of leaders are us, ourselves. When we decide to do something different, when we take action, the action causes a response, and the response itself inspires more people to take action.

    As a person, I am leading my own life, my blog and my studies. I definitely have certain dreams with all these (I hope to achieve them by leading my mind through the “right” path).

    Thank you for sharing the wonderful post, Hiten,


    1. Hi Jeevan,

      I loved your comment and I wholeheartedly agree.

      As you say we are all leaders. At the very least we are all leading our own lives. And when we decide to take action and make changes in our lives we have moved into a position of responsibility and leadership and have taken control of the direction we want to move in.

      What are you studying by the way?

      I wish you all the best.

      I’m really glad you liked this post Jeevan, and thanks for leaving such a brilliant and powerful comment. I got a tingle down my spine reading your words!

      Take care. 🙂

  12. This was a very interesting article. I really like the way you took different categories and examples of leadership and pulled lessons from them. The car wash was a great example. This issue of leadership has come up several times in my life in the last year. I keep finding myself in leadership roles although I don’t necessarily seek them out or even see myself as a leader. But other people seem to see me that way. Even when I try to empower others and not take the leading role, I still often end up there. So one question I have about leadership is how to inspire and encourage others to take leadership roles. All your excellent examples have given me some ideas.

    1. Hi Galen,

      I’m really glad you found the article interesting and I appreciate you sharing your experiences in the area of leadership.

      I thought it was interesting how you don’t see yourself as a leader yet others do. I can relate to this also and have had similar thoughts about the way others perceive me, which may be different from how I see myself.

      I believe we all do certain actions, which demonstrate leadership, yet it might not always be apparent to ourselves.

      I’m thrilled you have found the examples in the article useful to use when you are assisting others in taking leadership roles.

      Thanks a lot for commenting, Galen! 🙂

  13. This is such a refreshing read Hiten. Truly there are leaders all around us…they don’t have to go for campaigns all over the land to earn that title. You have shown such interesting leaders in our society who are very normal. The leaders who stand out to me are those that step up in times of crisis. When the boat is rocked, people show their true colours. Am always surprised at how some people I thought were leaders…chickened out in crisis. I loved this post my friend. Very good food for thought.

    1. Hi Veeh,

      I loved your comment! 🙂

      You are 100% right, my friend. True leaders show their worth when times are hard. Times of crisis are when strong leadership is needed the most amongst a community, no matter how big or small.

      You added a great additional character of leadership to this post, which all of us can learn from; namely that a real leader steps up to the mark in times of trouble.

      It’s great to see you here Veeh. Thanks for dropping by! 🙂

  14. Hi.. Leadership is really very important and we, businessmen are definitely aware with it.. Anyway, thanks for this Hiten..

  15. Hi Hiten,
    How are you?
    This is a very good analysis of the leadership skills which are developed by people doing different activities.
    To answer to your question, I suppose I am in the category of local entrepreneurs. I am in Greece and I am working on my own. I didn’t invent a new product. I just want to bring the goods of the on line marketing in Greece. Greek businesses are not very open to the internet and my goal is to provide online marketing services to them.
    It is hard, very hard. But I keep working on it because I want to test the model. My business plan is built on one year. At the end of the year I am going to evaluate the whole job and decide whether to continue or not. Conditions are bad and unfortunately I am impacted by the financial mess.

    Thank you for this article 🙂 I enjoyed reading it !

    1. Hi Lenia,

      I’m doing very well, thanks! 🙂

      How are you?

      Thank you very much for sharing the category you belong to, from the types of leaders discussed in the post.

      I think it’s great you are working on bringing online marketing services to the people of Greece!

      I personally love stories about local entrepreneurs. I find them very inspiring. I think it’s brilliant how you have a proper business plan in place and are experimenting. This is what
      entrepreneurship is all about, trying things out and seeing what works and discarding what doesn’t.

      It’s good you have an exit plan too, Lenia. The economy in Europe in general is not good and finances are a big problem for many of us.

      Thanks for commenting and sharing your valuable views, my friend! 🙂

      1. Thank you Hiten ! I am very well too 🙂
        Yes, as you mention the exit plan is extremely important. Otherwise the situation is very stressful!
        I think it is very important to evaluate and analyze the percentage of failure and be ready to re consider some things.

        You are very welcome Hiten 🙂

        1. Hi Lenia,

          You said “…and be ready to reconsider somethings.”

          Having the flexibility to let go of one approach if it doesn’t work, and having the confidence to try something else, is so important in life!

          Thanks for your great words Lenia! 🙂

  16. Hi Viten,

    I liked this article because I didn’t know what to expect. But you’re so right. We naturally tend to assume that leaders must look a certain way or be a certain way and it’s totally not trye.

    The shed guys are always fascinating, because it’s no easy job. Once one guy puts up a shed, it’s like a Mexican wave of sheds in the neighbourhood. I love that. And I can relate to you about the car wash experience. I too, do not understand a word they’re saying, but I definitely get the idea that one guy, in particular is in charge. He remembers a lot his customers when they next walk in, mostly because he takes the time to talk with them. Great customer service, and brilliant leadership.


    1. Hi Gemma,

      I’m really glad you enjoyed the post, and thanks for sharing your views on what you liked in particular about it.

      I really liked the point you made about seeing a Mexican wave of sheds soon after someone puts one up. I guess a good thing about seeing others do such things, is that it can be used a resource by us, because it means we too can put up a shed or whatever the task may be.

      It’s cool you too can relate to the car wash teams. I think these guys are a great model for team working and they are so hard working as well.

      Thanks a lot for dropping by here and leaving your great comment.

      It’s lovely to meet you! 🙂

  17. I have learned from your topic that, a leader must be confident,Simile,energetic,good in behavior etc,etc. Also i think, a leader must be practice to sacrifice himself for followers. Thanks for a nice post.

    1. I’m glad you liked the post Preston! 🙂

      Thanks for commenting.

  18. Hii Hiten sir,
    Beautifully quoted leadership examples. 🙂
    In my opinion we should try to develop leadership quality in our school time. We have lot of opportunities of organizing programs, hosting them, initiating different clubs. This will help us to be a confident leader in our life. Parents should take this opportunity to make their children guide in this field also. 🙂

    1. Hi Ashish,

      I’m so glad you liked the examples in the post! 🙂

      What you wrote about developing leadership qualities during school time was brilliant! Indeed, as you quite rightly stated, there are a number of opportunities to develop the ability to lead while in school.

      Absolutely, parents can also guide and encourage their kids to get involved in tasks that will help them to develop leadership skills.

      Thanks for leaving such a brilliant comment, Ashish! 🙂

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