The opportunity to lead exists at all levels of an organization, regardless of where you are in your life or in your work. Author Shawn Hunter explores the small, intentional behaviors that provide opportunities to step into leadership and change the environment you are working in. In his book, “Small Acts of Leadership: 12 Intentional Behaviors That Lead to Big Impact,” Hunter uses personal life stories and interviews with business leaders to discuss 12 behaviors he found in the daily lives of successful leaders, and shows how you can apply them in your own life.
It’s the small things that matter most. For instance, when John Wooden was coaching at UCLA, he began the season not with strenuous conditioning or a review of complex plays but by teaching the players how to put their socks and shoes on properly to avoid blisters or loose laces. This is leadership that makes a concrete difference.
In discussing the 12 behaviors leaders demonstrate, Hunter sees three major themes emerge:
- Our actions matter. Everything we do has consequences, especially our words. What we say to others has the power to shape their opinions of us, and shape how we think about and see the world. Actions matter. Words matter. Be aware of the impact both are having on yourself and others.
- Just do the thing. If you are thinking about undertaking a new project — whether it be writing a new book or giving a presentation — just start! You’ll experience challenges along the way, but that’s OK. Whatever the task, you will meet new people as you go who are willing to help, and you’ll learn and be supported throughout the journey.
- Be mindful of your narrative. In defining who you are in the world, remember to be compassionate to yourself. While we are patient and kind to others, we are often harsh and critical of ourselves. Self-compassion is an important component of recognizing that you do belong. Building yourself up is itself an act of leadership.
Opportunities to lead are all around us — at work, in our communities and at home. Don’t let them pass you by.