By Dr. Bobby J. Grossi

Leadership is a fascinating topic to me. Most people are not natural born leaders, but they learn the skill of leadership like any other skill in business or in life. It’s something you master over time. Here are some of my thoughts on leadership and what I call the law of reciprocation.

What it Really Takes to Be a Leader 

When we think of a “leader,” we may think of the CEO of a big company. But you don’t have to hold a prestigious position or impressive title to be a leader. There are many different ways to become a leader in the world.

Maybe you want to help people in your community. Or maybe you become a leader by being the best you can be at work and inspiring others. You can lead by changing systems or processes. Or, you can help create a new and better company culture by setting a positive example through your leadership. 

At the core of leadership is a desire to make a difference in the world. As long as you have that desire and act on it, you can be a leader. Leadership, in essence, is influencing others in a positive manner in big ways and small. 

The Law of Reciprocation

Leadership is enhancing your influence over others and inspiring them to follow you. To follow you, they must believe in you. But first, you need to believe in them. That’s the law of reciprocation. You must believe that they are great and that they want to help you along your journey. You believe in them, and they believe in you.

Usually, “being a follower” is considered to be a negative thing. It implies that the follower has no imagination and no self-direction. But I believe that a great leader knows when to lead but also knows when to follow. A true leader is as much a follower as a leader.

A great example of this is in the 2018 movie 12 Strong. It’s based on a true story about a U.S. Army Special Forces team[1] who helped take down the Taliban in key locations in Afghanistan after 9/11. The main character, played by Chris Hemsworth, is a true leader. It is obvious that all his team loves him, and he loves them too. They have that reciprocal belief in each other. He has the intuition to know when to take on the leadership role and when it’s okay to step back, becoming a follower. This true story is a great example of the law of reciprocation.

Leadership is Earned

No matter your title or position, remember that leadership is earned. Never is leadership something you’re automatically entitled to. Someone in charge may boss their subordinates around, but that doesn’t make them a leader. 

It takes work to become the leader you want to be. Not a day goes by that I don’t fail in leadership on some level. But I know that, like any other skill, I will master leadership the more I work at it. I’m working hard to earn the privilege of leadership because I am driven by the desire to make a difference in the world. You can do the same.