Dr. Bob Wright | February 11, 2016

How to Be a Leader—
Wherever You Are

What does it mean to be a leader? Is a leader simply the CEO or President of your company—or can anyone be a leader at any time?

If you listen to our Wright Living BlogTalkRadio show or read our blog regularly, you know leadership opportunities present themselves all the time, both in our careers and in our personal lives. I’ve talked to people who are struggling to find their inner leader and people who are wrestling with and tackling leadership conundrums even if they aren’t the highest paid employees on the payroll.

Leadership is within each of us.

Any time you’re in a group, there’s a chance to be a leader. Will the group always respond positively? Not always, but most of the time they’ll thrive under your leadership, especially if your leadership is transformational and helps each member of the group bring out their vision and their best, as well as your own.

3 Qualities of a Transformational Leader

A transformational leader displays certain universal qualities. They might not always be the funniest person in the room, the loudest, the smartest, or even the one with the best ideas.

A transformational leader is best at:

  1. Walking their talk.
  2. Having a sense of vision and sharing their vision with those around them.
  3. Being interested in the wellbeing of each individual and helping others to be individually engaged.

If you’ve seen transformational leaders at work, they aren’t someone who walks into the room and demands attention—they command attention. How do they command it? By listening and engaging with those around them!

Leaders Understand Culture on Multiple Levels

Transformational leaders understand the culture of the country, the city, the company, and even the culture of every individual they are working with. Company culture is something talked about a lot these days (and there’s big money for consultants who can understand it and bridge the cultural gap for employees).

Why? Because companies understand the importance of culture to a company—it’s the unspoken society, the rules, and the atmosphere of an organization. It’s the personality.

Connecting with the culture of each individual, not their race or religion, but rather engaging in discovering a deeper understanding of what makes them tick, is what will help you truly bring out their best.

The rules of the company, roles, and expectations must be clearly outlined for all of those operating within those parameters. Time and time again, I hear complaints about employee behavior, when the employees have no idea what the rules and expectations really are, because they haven’t been outlined. That’s not setting people up for success.

How to Actually Motivate a Group

How many of us have been part of a team or group where everyone ends up pissing and moaning about the way things are done or what management expects them to do, while nothing productive happens?

When a confident transformational leader is in a situation with a group of whiners, rather than fueling the fire, he or she will acknowledge the feelings of the group and give them a choice. After listening to everyone’s feelings, try saying something like, “I know no one is happy about this project, but we can either figure out a way to get it done in a professional and productive way, or we can piss and moan about it and spin our wheels. Now what are our next steps?”

Whether you’re dealing with two-year-olds or forty-two-year-olds, giving others a choice will always motivate them. No one likes to be told what he or she must do, or directed or ordered to do something. Instead, articulating the dilemma, acknowledging the feelings, and helping others to choose to move forward will keep things productive.

If you relate by joining in on the moaning and whining and keep it going, you’ll just perpetuate the cycle of non-productive behavior. Instead, acknowledge the feelings and validate them, then move forward with a plan. Telling people they HAVE to do something doesn’t appeal to their hearts and minds. Alfred Adler brought up the theory of giving people a choice—which appeals to people and invites them to be self-respecting and jump in.

Leading by Understanding & Connecting with Others

When people aren’t motivated, it’s often that they aren’t in touch with their emotional intelligence. They’re likely holding back out of fear. Either they fear failure or they fear they aren’t being heard and their yearnings aren’t being met. Understand those yearnings and acknowledge them. Understand the fear and reassure people they’re being heard.

When you have someone who’s trying to lead the group, and they’re faced with a naysayer or an adversary, support the leader in what they’re saying. I’ve been in situations where a whole room of people will start to hear out a speaker simply because they see me supporting the speaker and siding with him.

There’s always going to be those who try to undermine leadership and management. Sometimes it’s for good reason, for example, if they’re not leading with values and integrity. Other times, it’s just because they’re negative and difficult. Rather than allowing those people to dominate the conversation, you can co-lead by helping the group support the leader.

When management sees the way you support them and share their vision, they’ll listen to you with respect and hold you in the same regard. Use your leadership skills to bring out your best and the best of those around you.


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About the Author


Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.

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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.