Leaders come in all shapes and sizes

Published 8:04 am Thursday, April 23, 2015

I had the pleasure of attending the Four Flags Chamber’s annual awards banquet last week, and I was very impressed.

The Morris Supper Club was packed wall to wall with people either receiving awards themselves, or supporting colleagues who were being honored for service.

Todd Gongwer, motivational speaker and author of “Lead for God’s Sake,” hit the nail right on the head when he explained that every person — regardless of their ranking on a hierarchy — is a leader.

Todd talked about how every one of our actions has an impact on the people around us — be it our coworkers, our children, our siblings or neighbors. Similar to the old saying that “one bad apple ruins the batch,” Todd explained how one person’s positive behavior has the potential to influence every person witnessing that behavior, and one bad decision can lead to another person’s bad decision down the road.

This non-traditional definition of leadership really resonated with me, and has stayed with me throughout the last week.

As I’ve made decisions throughout the week, I’ve thought about how those around me might be impacted. From deciding which words to use around my 3-year-old cousin to choosing words I write in emails, I’ve realized that this new perspective truly has an impact on our behavior.

Todd also challenged audience members to define a good leader using only one word. Words like, “respect,” “loyalty,” “dedication” and “strength” were among the dozens shouted simultaneously when prompted by the speaker. As Todd explained it, this is because we all hold different values in what we think makes a leader.

Throughout the night, the Chamber recognized leaders of all shapes and sizes, each of whom fit different definitions of leadership. From businesses making strides, to organizations growing their services, to individuals being honored for leadership within the community, no two winners were described with the same adjectives.

As the Chamber recognized these award recipients, I couldn’t help but look around the room at the co-workers and family members accompanying those honored and seeing the pride in their faces as their peers accepted their awards. To me, this is not only a reflection of the exemplary leadership of those honored, but also those in the audience.

Anyone can go home after a long day at work and catch up on television shows or enjoy dinner with their loved ones, but these people spent their Thursday night celebrating the success of others.

If we are all leaders, like Todd said, I’d say the actions of everyone at that banquet provided a great example for others.


Ambrosia Neldon is the managing editor at Leader Publications. She can be reached by phone at (269) 687-7713, or by email at ambrosia.neldon@leaderpub.com.