Defining Leadership by Abby Daniels

Growing up, I reserved the term “leader” for the individuals in my life who I perceived to be in a position of power or “in charge.” For example, I thought of my school principals, my basketball coaches, and elected officials as the primary leaders within my sphere.  

While those individuals certainly are leaders, I failed to realize until much later that leadership can take many alternative forms. When I was a senior in high school, I took a course focused on civic leadership. My teacher enlightened me by sharing his outlook on leadership which was that leaders aren’t just those in a designated position of power; leaders come in many roles. You are a leader if you are an older sibling. You are a leader if you are an academic tutor. You are a leader if you are a babysitter. You are a leader if you volunteer in your community to help those in need. 

After learning this, I began to approach every opportunity before me with a different mindset. I realized that as an older sister, I was a leader to my younger brother. As a varsity basketball player, I was a leader to younger athletes. As a student council member, I was a leader to my peers. 

Because leadership comes in a wide variety of ways, it is easy to find a place where you can lead – and you should always seek out these opportunities! Speak up in class, hold the door for a stranger, and ask questions. These are all simple components of our daily lives that will help you stand out from the crowd and cast a positive influence upon others. 

As we embark on 2022 and become empowered through NeW’s “Lead Like a Lady” campaign, it is important to recognize that women can be leaders by being big sisters, mothers, friends, and beyond. Self-identifying as a leader is a tool of immense power. It breathes new confidence into your everyday life when you start to see yourself in this light. 

There is no “one size fits all” model of leadership. I implore all women to take a moment to reflect and to recognize that even the most minuscule of things make you a leader. While you may not recognize it in yourself, there is always someone who looks up to you and sees you as someone they one day hope to emulate. That makes you a leader. 

This blog was written by Abby Daniels, NeW alumna and former NeW communications intern. Learn more about NeW’s Lead Like a Lady program.

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