“To lead or not to lead?” – We asked Doug Smith

Being a leader means that you help guide others towards their potential.  You must motivate and inspire everyone around you to set out and accomplish their goals. One organization that has been making a name for themselves doing just that is L3 Leadership.

They are an organization that aims to “build and develop a community of leaders that grow to their maximum potential, develop the courage to pursue their dreams, and to become great leaders in their families, communities, cities, nations, and their world.”  Recently we were able to interview Doug Smith, the founder of L3 Leadership, about why becoming a leader is important and about leadership in general.

1. What are, or can be the benefits of following a leader or having a mentor?

DS: Andy Stanley often says, “Mentors have the ability to take you further, faster.” The reality is that none of us are good enough to reach out potential on our own. We need others to invest in us, correct us, coach us, and help us to push past the limits in our lives. If the best athletes on the planet need multiple coaches in order to reach their potential as a player, why wouldn’t we need several mentors in our lives to help us do the same?

2. Why do you feel it is important for individuals to become a leader or mentor?

DS: It is important because leadership matters. John Maxwell is famous for saying, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” That is a fact. The state of our families, businesses, churches, neighborhoods, and our world is a reflection of leadership or lack thereof.  Therefore, if we want better families, neighborhoods, cities, states, and nations, then we need every leader to reach their potential as a leader and to use their leadership for the betterment of the world.

As for mentoring, I believe that as we grow in our leadership and use it to make the world a better place, it is extremely important that we mentor the next generation of leaders.  In fact, I believe that every leader should be investing in a next generation leader. What good is it if our leadership only impacts the generation in which we live and never makes a difference in the one coming up behind us?

3. What is the biggest piece of advice you have taken away from one of your mentors?

DS: I think the biggest things I have learned from the mentors in my life is the importance of being a man character and integrity and having a vision to make it to my finish line as a leader.

I am so grateful that my mentors modeled integrity and character for me. They showed me by their actions what great leaders, fathers, mothers, husbands, and wives look like and do. Their example provided me with a vision of what my life could look like if I would grow into a man of character and integrity.

One mentor in my life often reminds me that he believes only 2% of leaders make it to their finish line with integrity. He shares that to remind us to think about the long-game and not the short game. It’s easy to be successful in the short-run, it’s difficult to stay successful over the long-run.

4.What’s the best advice you have for young leaders?

DS: Develop a personal growth plan and find mentors that can help you grow. My life was changed when I had a mentor hand me a John Maxwell leadership lesson on CD. I did not know there were resources out there to help you grow and develop as a leader. After listening to the lesson, I called my mentor and told him to give me everything he had on leadership. For me, that was the start of my personal development journey. I have continued to grow and develop every day since then.

5. Tell us about how L3 came to fruition.

DS: When I was a senior in high school, my mom passed away. At that point in my life, I had a very low GPA, no goals, no plans, and I certainly never thought I would do anything significant in life. Through a series of events, I had two mentors come into my life who saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself. They took a chance and invested in me. They gave me leadership resources, connected me with leaders in the community, allowed me to do life with them, and gave me opportunities to grow and develop.

After a few years of growing under their leadership, I found myself wanting to give to others what my mentors had given to me. To do that, I started recording my time with leaders and putting it on our podcast for others to listen to. After a few years of producing the podcast, we started hosting leadership breakfasts and mastermind groups, and the rest is history.

6. How can members benefit from L3?

DS: My hope for anyone who joins the L3 Community is that they will recognize and develop their potential as a leader, connect with and do life with other leaders in our community who will help them pursue their dreams, get mentored by some of the best leaders in our city, and feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves.

7. What does leadership mean to you?

DS: I’ve always adopted John Maxwell’s definition of leadership: “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.”  I like this definition because if you have influence in any area of your life, then you are a leader.  You probably have more areas in your life that you have the opportunity to lead than you think. Therefore, it’s important that you learn how to lead for the sake of your family.

I think too many people do not view themselves as leaders and therefore they do not do anything to intentionally grow and develop. We tend to think that if we are not leading a huge company, then we are not leaders.

The reality is there are all kinds of leaders. My goal is to help everyone see that they have the potential to lead because they have influence somewhere. Once I convince them of that, I will do everything I can to help them grow to their maximum potential and use their influence to make the world a better place, because that’s what great leaders do.

If you are interested in becoming a part of L3 Leadership, are looking for leadership resources, or want to connect with Doug, visit their website at L3Leadership.org.

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