4 Individuals Who Prove a Title Doesn’t Make You a Leader

Hayley Panagakis

22 December 2017

Often when we think of leaders, we consider those who have made a profound impact on the world on a mass scale, whether it be historical game changers, political figures or executives of Fortune 500 companies.

Before I started working at Leadercast, I never really thought of myself as a leader. I knew I had several good qualities that would make me a great leader someday, but I didn’t think about how I led from where I’m sitting now—in my marriage, with family and friends, or with my colleagues.

Being surrounded by leaders of all levels at Leadercast, it didn’t take long for me to learn leadership isn’t determined by title or rank. In an interview on Leadercast NOW, University of Virginia professor Dr. Jill Guindon-Nasir explains, “Leadership is a choice. It's not just a title… A title means that you have authority and it means that, yes, people will listen to you because they want their job and they respect you for the authority you have with the title, but it does not mean that you're a leader.”

Leadership isn’t reserved for CEOs or presidents; it’s something we choose to develop in ourselves and use in our everyday lives. Below are four people who wake up each day and choose to be leaders to their communities. They may seem like everyday people just like you and me, and that’s because they are. Watch each video to learn how these inspiring leaders are using their gifts, resources and talents to make the world better to those around them.

Amy Wright is a mother to four children, two of which live with Down syndrome. An advocate for her children and others like them, Amy believes people with special needs should have access to opportunities just like everyone else. So in 2016, she and her husband opened Bitty & Beau’s Coffee in Wilmington, North Carolina, to provide jobs to people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The shop now has 40 employees and is the first job for many on staff.

“This shop is not about me. This shop is about them.” says Amy in an interview. “We always say it's more than a cup of coffee, it's a human rights movement. It's given our employees the respect that they deserve; it's allowed them to shine."

Better known as the neighborhood nanny, Alma Johnson gives back to her Crowley, Louisiana, community by providing free childcare to parents in need. For years, the grandmother has offered her time and resources in order to care for and feed children in her neighborhood, and through her service, parents are able to make a difference in their own lives.

"[Alma] sets the example for us as parents to go out there and do something,” says a parent about the good Alma is doing for their community. “Go to school if you're at school. Go to work if you need to work. [Alma will say,] ‘I got the children, don't worry about them, they're safe.’”

Wyatt Oroke, humanities teacher at City Springs Elementary/Middle School in Baltimore, goes out of his way to ensure his students have access to every opportunity. Teaching in a low-income and under-resourced area of Baltimore, Wyatt is the biggest supporter and cheerleader for many of his students, and will even use his own money to buy books for any kid who asks.

Wyatt is one of many teachers around the world who would do everything in their power to give back to the future of their community through the children they lead. “What happens in classrooms today impacts what happens in the world tomorrow,” says Wyatt. “If you fill your classroom with love today, you’re going to fill the world with love tomorrow.”

Larry Bross is a former oil worker who, when his family fell on hard times in the ‘80s, decided to take his life in a different direction by helping those less fortunate. He began volunteering at a homeless shelter in Oklahoma City, which eventually led him to found City Care—a nonprofit that provides food and housing for the homeless, and tutoring and mentoring for inner-city kids.

"Even though maybe he doesn't remember me or remember my face, I want him to know just that he changed my life and he created this want in me to help others and invest in other people,” says Bianca Tobias, who received help from Larry when she was a child.

Hayley Panagakis

This blog was written by Hayley Panagakis, a freelance writer, editor and content creator. Connect with her on LinkedIn and visit her website to learn more about her services.

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