Written by Kristin Harrington

My daughter has a rotating “Leader Day” in her pre-K class. On their assigned “Leader Day,” each student can lead the class line, pass out snacks, conduct a show-and-tell guessing game, and run the morning calendar.

Ahead of “Leader Day,” she can barely contain her excitement. She even has a self-anointed “Leader Day” outfit. Since I coach leaders for a living, I never miss an opportunity to impart knowledge ahead of her day. One exchange is particularly memorable:

Me: “Remember, leadership is about inspiring your friends. You don’t need a ‘Leader Day’ to be a leader; you can lead any time.” 

Her: “Mom… that’s not our kind of leadership! That’s not how we do it. You don’t know what you’re talking about.” 

Much to my disappointment, she was right. From an incredibly young age, we are taught that leadership is a position in line, a title to hold, and a job to perform. Leadership isn’t about serving or inspiring; it’s about wielding power.

It’s no wonder we grow up to perpetuate many of these beliefs in the workplace. In many organizations, leadership is a title reserved for the people at the top of the hierarchy. You only become a leader when someone deigns you worthy of the position. Leadership is about control. Leadership is for a fortunate few.

You don’t need a “Leader Day” to be a leader – here’s why:

If you are influencing and inspiring, you are leading. At Lead Star, we believe leaders influence outcomes and inspire others. If you’re influencing and inspiring, you are leading – it’s as simple as that. The great part of this definition is that it flies directly in the face of every myth and misconception we’ve grown up believing. Leadership isn’t an exclusive role; it’s for anyone and everyone willing to roll up their sleeves and get in the game.

Organizational charts don’t make leaders; actions do. Leaders are defined by their actions, commitment, and will. If you act in ways that consistently demonstrate high levels of credibility, accountability, confidence, vision, and service, you are well on your way to leading. Don’t wait for a role to deem you a leader. And don’t assume the people at the “top” of a company are leaders, either. They don’t always go together.

Leadership is needed every day. It’s become more apparent than ever; leaders are needed every day, everywhere. If you’re waiting for a special day to serve and inspire, you miss countless opportunities to effect change.

Don’t wait for “Leader Day” to lead. The world needs more inspiration and influence, and it’s waiting for you.

Founded in 2004, Lead Star is the company behind New York Times best-sellers SPARKLeading from the Front, and Bet on You. Lead Star supports professionals to reach new levels of success through an innovative coaching program, Year to Rise.