If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. —
John Quincy Adams

Everyone is a leader, in every profession, every role, no matter what title or pay level.

I was visiting a state national park this past weekend and will keep it nameless to protect the innocent.

Being a leadership developer and coach, I am curious to what people say about their leaders. I was walking out of the park and a friendly park ranger decided to open up about his management.

In his opinion, his current leader is outstanding and he wasn’t shy about telling me why. I asked what made the difference for him and he said this:

“My previous manager had no new ideas. He had been in the role for over 40 years and basically just tried to survive until retirement. He was a very good guy but had no ambition to make anything better.

When he was replaced, the new manager came in with fabulous ideas and encouraged me to make things better. I was able to clean up the area, put in new rocks and tables, fix and replace broken sinks, and paint the walls of the restrooms”.


While the ranger’s actions seem simple, it turns out that that is exactly the point. Leadership can be simple. It is empowering yourself and others to go where they have never gone before and maybe wouldn’t go by themselves (or wouldn’t without permission).

The new leader truly inspired and led this ranger to go and do what he wanted to do which was to make things better for the patrons of the park.

While the previous manager was a nice person, had good ethics and was easy to get along with, that wasn’t what was needed to make the park the best experience for the visitors.

What I noticed was the enthusiasm this ranger had for his job, his passion for excellence, and his ideas to make things better. All he needed was the spark to excel.

He could have easily taken a different road and just bided his time for his retirement. Instead he opted to make a difference. I would advise this wonderful ranger to go a step further – speak to his leader about his improvement suggestions for what could be done. (and if you have the latitude, just make the changes on your own). While there is risk, the rewards will set you free.