In Spark: How to Lead Yourself and Others to Greater Success (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017), Angie Morgan, Courtney Lynch and Sean Lynch—three military veterans-turned-leadership experts—argue that leaders can be found at any level of an organization and that anyone can effect change if they commit to doing so.
That's because leadership is not about authority or titles; rather, it's about influencing people and outcomes. The authors call people who do this "Sparks." These individuals may not have titles, but they possess the courage to see that things can be different and the conviction to lead themselves and the people they work with. The book provides a road map to help guide readers on how to take charge of their careers and outlines the steps managers can take to identify and develop Sparks throughout the organization.
The book is based on the premise that anyone can—and should—develop leadership capabilities to reach their potential and contribute their best.
The key to becoming a Spark, as well as cultivating leaders among employees, lies in developing seven leadership behaviors:
- Character—The congruence between your values and actions. By gaining awareness of what you truly value, you can think and act in ways that allow you to direct your life and have influence over others.
- Credibility—The foundation of your leadership style. It allows people to view you as dependable, trustworthy and committed.
- Accountability—The ability to relentlessly seek ownership of mistakes, problems and any other less-than-best outcome you are either responsible for or associated with and then quickly get to the solution.
- Acting with intent—The ability to envision a better future and take actions that lead yourself and others toward it.
- Being of service—The ability to recognize and meet others' needs so that they can be their best.
- Confidence—Belief in your abilities and the feeling that you can rise to the occasion when the pressure is on. Your confidence level will determine the level of results you experience.
- Consistency—The ability to stay focused on your values and intentions regardless of your circumstances.
"Leadership isn't something you expect from others," the authors write. "It's something you do for yourself and for others. While it's true that it can be frustrating to work for someone who doesn't demonstrate leadership, think of the opportunity to serve those within your group who also crave leadership. When there's a leadership void, you can fill it by demonstrating 'Spark' behaviors."
Desda Moss is managing editor of HR Magazine.