What is a leader?

IMG_20160121_162430I was recently the contest chair for a speech contest in my Toastmasters club. I was so discouraged by the end of it that I just knew I had failed. I didn’t even want to claim it in my Competent Leadership manual because I felt like I had not done a good job.

The truth is, the contest got done. It was done by the rules. The more experienced people in my club helped me get through it, and it all turned out fine. It gave me a lot of experience to learn from next time I have to chair a contest.

So why didn’t I think it counted? The president of my Toastmasters Club reassured me that although it didn’t go as smoothly as I planned, it still “counted” for my CL notebook.

That says a lot, doesn’t it? I think it’s easy to get this idea that a leader always gets things right the first time. In reality, nothing is further from the truth. A real leader learns from her mistakes and does it better next time. She keeps her head about her when she really wants to stomp around and cry because things aren’t going as planned.

This whole idea of “what is a leader” seems to be cropping up in other parts of my life. I’m part of a group creating a women’s empowerment center in Northwest Arkansas. In one of our focus groups, the idea of “what is a leader” was part of the discussion.

In my head, I know a person doesn’t necessarily have to be in charge of something to qualify as a leader. On the same token, just because someone is in charge of something doesn’t mean that person is a leader. At least not an effective one.

So what qualifies a person as a leader? What are qualities of a good leader? Share your thots in the comments.

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