Leadership is said to “emerge” on the best teams when others step up and act like leaders without being asked to do so. But emergent leadership requires more than making the choice to lead. It first requires that a person takes responsibility for something. When a leader takes responsibility and believes their values require them to be responsible, it gives them the authority to act.
Too often we believe that authority — in the form of a title, a position or an expectation — is what makes us responsible, but it actually works the other way around. You never truly have authority until you believe you are responsible. When you believe you are responsible for everyone’s safety, for example, you engage with authority to make others safe regardless of the position you hold or the title you have been given.
When we use authority to make us responsible, leadership is a burden and a chore, making our actions and choices labored and artificial. Ask of yourself and of your team or family to be more responsible for outcomes, and you will see leadership blossom and naturally emerge.