When I think about leadership, four words come to mind: process, decision, privilege and responsibility. People become leaders through the process of using and developing natural traits and talents. Therefore, it is important to find your true self, understand what you’re good at and what makes you happy, and then put those gifts to work. People become leaders through the process of learning from life experiences and exposure to role models at home, in school, at work and in the community. It’s a self-managed process that is continuous. You never stop learning.

Every day, you make a decision to use your talents or not, to learn from experience or not, and to follow or not follow a particular example. I recall a poster on the wall at my high school: “Not to decide is to decide.” A successful, rewarding career does not simply evolve nor can others make it happen for you. Proactive choice and decision-making along the way will determine the path your career takes.

I believe that leadership is a privilege. When people follow a leader, they are offering trust, dedication and some degree of personal investment in the form of work or another type of commitment. It is a privilege to be given these gifts. They should always be respected and used for the greater good.

If you seek to be in a leadership position, you must accept the responsibility of making choices that will affect the lives of those who choose to follow you. To effectively fulfill this responsibility, leaders must seek to understand before being understood and never stop being students of their profession, of business or of the world. They must care passionately about what they do as well as for the people with whom and for whom they do it.

Leadership is the process of making decisions that will earn you the privilege of having the responsibility to influence other people’s lives.