Start Small, Lead Big

The leadership journey begins differently for every leader. Some are chosen. Others choose themselves.

One way or another, you’ve begun to lead. And that’s fantastic! We need more people willing to step up and lead.

An issue many young leaders face is the temptation to start big and lead big. Feelings of inadequacy arise once they realize their tribe isn’t as big as they’d hope.

I’ve been in this situation before. There’s been times when our youth group was frustratingly small. Subscribers to my blog grew stagnant and growth wasn’t happening.

Truth is, I was frustrated.

Why I Was Frustrated

My problem, along with many other young leaders, was I had a grand vision and expected it right now. Kind of like the Burger King slogan: Your Way, Right Away.

This kind of attitude grabbed me and threw me to the ground. I’d given into the theology of quick, not great.

Because of the lack of growth, the lack of attention, the lack of learning I grew more and more frustrated. Can you understand where I’m coming from?

In reality, this wasn’t the real reason for my frustration. It was a mask the true frustration wore.

What really frustrated me was that I wanted BIG before I put in the time.

The Solution To The Your Way, Right Away Frustration

As I grew and trudged through the issues I faced with inadequacy and frustration I learned what needed to change. I got into a funk and lost my focus.

My mindset became muddled and I stopped watching my attitude indicator.

I needed to get away from the microwave quick mindset.

When I began to realize this, I took steps to change the way I was thinking and how I was feeling. This changed everything.

The solution was common sense. My ego and ambition were too big for where I was at personally. I hadn’t fully grown into the role of a leader.

I had failed to start small.

Now, had I started small, things would have been different in the early days. I’d have realized leadership had a progression and I’d have to work my way through levels of leadership.

Avoid Early Leadership Frustration

I shared how I had thought my influence and reach needed to be larger than what it was. And how this brought angst and frustration to my life.

The solution had been to start small. Discover your leadership style early on, when your tribe is small. This allows you to make the mistakes without as many eyes on you. There will also be less damage if a bad decision is made.

If you’re looking to start leading, look to lead small at first. You can do this by:

  • Influencing your friends: Learn how to take a leadership role among your friends. One situation you can step up and lead is the dreaded dinner choice. How many times have you been with a group of friends and no one wants to make the decision of where to eat? More times than you care to remember, I bet.


    Be a leader here and offer your suggestion. You may discover others are willing to follow. What a great feeling that is. Or you may see your idea rejected. What a bad feeling this is.


    And yet this is just what you need. You need to gain the experience of making popular and unpopular choices. Who better to be rejected by than your friends? It’s safe because you know they love and care about you. Give them the chance to teach you this

  • Influencing your coworkers: Regardless of whether or not your in a leadership position at your current job, you can still influence and lead others. I’ve written about this in a previous post. Don’t give into the negativity about your job. Decide to be positive. Decide to make a difference. Decide to be a leader.


    When you see something wrong at work, step up and take care of the problem. Clean up the messy break room or the dirty bathroom. Pick up the trash others have thrown around.


    This might not be your job but it’s what a leader does. Leaders see a problem and take action. They don’t wait to be told or asked to do something. They see it and do it. This is what makes a leader.

  • Influencing your family: If your a husband, you’re tossed into a role of leadership here. You’re the head of your household and need to lead your wife and children.


    Many young men fail here. They don’t see the need to lead in their home.


    You’ve been given the responsibility, and the privilege, of leading the most important people in your life. Don’t screw it up and pass your leadership responsibility off to someone else. Because there really isn’t anyone else equipped like you to lead your family.


    As you lead your family, you’ll discover the skills you learn are similar to the ones you’ll need to lead large organizations. There’s negotiations with your wife. There’s the need for proper discipline of children. Along with budgeting, time management, and much more.

When you start small, you begin to build up the necessary tools to lead big. Choose to take your time as you’re growing as a leader. Learn the ins and outs of leadership.

Each small step you take will allow you to become better equipped to handle the big issues of leadership.

Question: What small steps are you taking so you can lead big? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.