It’s easy to identify the leaders of an organization, right? Aren’t they the ones with titles that include terms like “senior” or “vice president”? Do they have employees who report to them on a regular basis? While these conventional definitions might seem correct, Mary Beth McEuen, founder of Innergy, told an audience of more than 700 meeting professionals and suppliers at PCMA Education Conference in St. Louis that leadership involves more than a title.
“There’s a big difference between being in management and being a leader,” McEuen said in in the opening general session on Monday, June 27. “Anyone can be a leader. It’s not about position. It’s not about hierarchy.”
So what separates leaders from followers? McEuen reminded the audience that leadership is about understanding people. It’s about knowing what makes their brains tick and what inspires them. Contrary to another common belief, the source of that inspiration isn’t simply money or material goods. Instead, McEuen highlighted that individuals who driven by a greater purpose to make a real impact are more satisfied and more likely to be able to bring out the best in the people around them. “Great leaders and designers are self-aware, socially-aware, purpose maximizers and ambitious,” McEuen said.
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Your business card might say you’re a director, a manager, a planner, a VP or any other range of titles. Regardless of how it reads, you can be a positive influence for your organization and the people who work with you each day. Being a leader doesn’t even require advice from top-tier experts or lessons in an organizational leadership program, either. In fact, you can simply follow some words of wisdom that McEuen shared from a 13-year-old camper she once taught. “Leadership is about making a difference in others’ lives,” his advice stated. “Leadership is not about control. It is helping people be fully themselves.”
Looking for other insights on leadership and disruptive thinking? Check out our Q&A with McEuen: