Developing Leadership to Make Things Happen

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The best way to define leadership is by way of an example. At a leadership conference, before it began, one person saw that the room was kind of a mess. There were papers on the floor, a Coke® can in the corner, and other miscellaneous remnants indicating that an entire day of classes had occurred in this lecture hall. Before the session started, one person got up out of their chair, went o­­ver to pick up a piece of paper and the Coke® can, threw them out, and sat back down. Not less than maybe 30-60 seconds later, two other people got up, went around and picked up some trash near their chairs, threw it out and sat back down. That first person was leading by the most effective form of leadership possible. They were leading by example.

No one went up to that first person and said, “Hello, we’d like to appoint you the official room picker-upper and give you two assistant room picker-uppers.” They did not receive any special consideration, grandiose title, extra bonus points, cash incentive or reward. They took Nike’s® advice and just did it. No one even went up to the other two people who helped out and said, “Look at that! Did you see what that person did? Now if you were even half that responsible, aware, or caring, you’d help out too!” They didn’t get any that-a-boy’s, pats on the back, gold stars, happy face stickers, or candy bar rewards. They saw someone take the lead and they followed.

Leaders do what needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
whether they want to do it or not,
without being asked

…which in the words of Thomas Huxley is what it takes to be successful in this world. More than anything else, it is about maintaining a higher level of awareness. Leaders see opportunities to make something happen and they act on it, they do something, they make things happen.

Leaders pay attention to more than just what appears. They have both a sense of detail as well as the big picture that others many times miss. Leaders always seem to take the initiative in making things happen because they see opportunities before others do. You have probably heard the saying: There are three types of people in the world, those who…

Make things happen,
watch things happen,
or wonder what’s happening!

Everyone has varying degrees of how well they pay attention to the world around them. If you’re the type of person who pays attention at a very high level, you’ll tend to see more opportunities and therefore make more things happen. If you’re the type of person who just pays attention to what they “have to” do to “just get by,” then chances are you may notice a few opportunities, but for the most part you’ll tend to notice other people making things happen and then you’ll join in. If, however, you are the type of person who doesn’t pay attention at all, you’re not going to even notice the opportunities. You’ll occasionally notice other people making things happen, but most of the time chances are you will wonder what is happening.

It’s your choice based on how well you pay attention. Are you going to make something happen and take the lead? Are you going to just watch things happen and follow? Or are you going to wonder what’s happening? That first person at the leadership conference was paying attention, saw an opportunity to make something happen, and took the lead. The two other people who were watching what happened saw the first person’s example and followed. Everyone else in the room probably didn’t even notice what happened. Leaders pay attention, make things happen and KICK IT IN!

FRAN KICK works with corporate and educational organizations that want to develop better leadership and smarter followership for faster long-term results. Inspiring people to KICK IT IN® and TAKE THE LEAD since 1986 as a professional speaker, author, and consultant.

© Fran Kick. Used with permission.

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This article Developing Leadership to Make Things Happen: Different types of people = Different types of leaders! by Fran Kick is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
I want to thank you for leading by example. You obviously have a passion for instilling leadership in others. I work with the Developing Leaders in the Wildland Fire Program ( I was searching for articles to showcase on our website or through a newsletter. I came across your article titled Developing Leadership to Make Things Happen: Different Types of People = Different Types of Leaders! in another publication. I visited your website to obtain contact information in order to seek approval to use your article. Not only did I find article in print-ready, easy-to-use formats, but also a statement regarding pre-approved, free-of charge use of the publication. Examples like yours are not seen every day. Thank you for your contribution to leadership development.”
Pam McDonald
Pam McDonald, Writer/Editor
U.S. Bureau of Land Management
Fran Kick

FRAN KICK works with corporate and education organizations, groups, and associations that want to develop better leaders and smarter followers for faster long-term results. As an author, educational consultant, and professional speaker, he always shares relevant research, real-world insights, and actionable ideas YOU can implement to motivate yourself. So you can Kick It In and Take the Lead at work, in school, at home, and in life!