Become a successful leader (1): Everyday Leadership

Introduction to leadership

Everyday Leadership is a very useful tool for everyone in their daily lives, and in every life/career stage, we would have different ideas about leadership. It would be better for everyone to learn and think about leadership as soon as possible. Therefore, I want to share the leadership-related courses and workshops with you and discuss any questions in leadership development because that’s how to learn leadership from each other. I will prepare a series of articles to share the concept and my opinions, and I hope both of us can develop our own leadership from each other’s life experiences.

What is everyday leadership?

There are two types of leadership, managing tasks and managing people. Usually, the first thing coming into mind is either a project leader or a team manager when we talk about leadership. However, there is a new concept called everyday leadership which means that we can show our leadership in our daily lives when we change someone’s life, even we do not notice. Here is a perfect example in the TED talk about everyday leadership by Drew Dudley.

My everyday leadership story

When I was a Ph.D. student at Cornell University, I always had a conversation with undergrad students who wanted to join the group. Having undergrad research to volunteer in the lab is helpful to me, but I prefer to know if this experience could benefit the student by meeting with this student before he/she decides to join. The first thing I like to ask is, “What is your goal for undergraduate research? “”What do you want to do after graduating from Cornell?” and “What will you see yourself in the next 5/10/20 years?” These questions could help me understand the student’s need for his/her future career and how I could help. Sometimes the student might not think about these questions, so I will let them think about them before continuing the conversation. I had two students who had this conversation with me, and they all found the right career track after graduating from Cornell University. One student moved to Worcester Polytechnic Institute for his Ph.D. program, and he brought his family to the lab on the commencement day to say thank you to me because I changed his life to pursue a Ph.D. in science. This surprised me because I did not notice that what I had done could change someone’s life, and this is my story about everyday leadership.

4 components in everyday leadership

Four components in everyday leadership


There are 4 components in everyday leadership, self-awareness, relationship, organizational awareness, and purposeful action. The first step to becoming a leader is to know himself/herself and lead him/her to a successful outcome, so self-awareness is very important to understand your own character, motives, desires, feeling, tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses. How could we achieve self-awareness? A simple method is to ask people surrounding you for feedback, and it might be hard to become open to feedback. Therefore, you need to be brave, honest with yourself, vulnerable, and open to change anything.


There are differnt rols in a group, and a good leader build relationship between the group members who could fill roles and become a useful action. Here are the roles in a group:

  • Role Models
  • Thought Partners
  • Coaches
  • Feedback Partners
  • Allies
  • Cheersleaders

A role model is usually someone you want to be in the future. Thought partners help you think by challenging your perspectives, testing your assumptions, and sharing his/her insights and experiences. Coaches usually encourage and support your self-reflection to increase your capacity to learn and develop your profession. Feedback partners observe your behavior and provide insightful and valuable feedback. Allies are the one collaborating with you to pursue the same dream, and cheerleaders encourage you, support you, celebrate with you for success, pick you up when you are down.

organizational awareness

You could think that organizational awareness is to understand the working environment and culture and helps you finish your work. Additionally, an organization’s culture includes stated/ unstated values, rules, and norms. Once we better understand organizational awareness, we will know how to become successful leaders in this culture.

purposeful action

To have a proper outcome, the most important thing is to take the right action. Many people think about what they should do to become good leaders, but they never start to do any of these great ideas. Then nothing would change, and they could not be a successful leader. To have the right action, first, we should have an expected result in mind and be aligned with our values, such as creating a better working environment and thinking of an achievable solution to take action. Last, we should do this step by step, and eventually, we could see the result and make a better working environment.


Everyday leadership would be a start to devleop your own leadership and the only thing you need to know after reading this article is to believe you can do it. Think about these 4 components in everyday leadership and keep practing. I believe we all can be an everyday leader.

Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions and we could dicuss it. Also, if you like this article, please share it and recommend this to your friends. Thanks.

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