4 Chapter 1 environments. Nevertheless, at least two common factors are evident in most definitions of leaders and leadership: Leadership is a group phenomenon. At least two people must be • involved—a leader must be leading someone. Leadership usually involves intentional influence. At least one of • the people involved must want to make something happen. A few more things are known about leadership. The development of leadership ability takes time. It is a lifelong process that begins at birth and is influenced by many factors, including life and work experiences. Operating the most sought-after family child care center in your com- munity, for example, didn’t just happen in a day. When you first started, you may not have had all the knowledge, information, and experience you needed. However, if you got along well with younger children when you were a child, raised a number of children of your own, took a few classes in child development, or worked in a center for a while, you began to pull together experiences that led you toward your goal. You learned different things from each experience, and you put them all together in a way that made sense to you. This process of integrating your experience gave you what you needed to begin your own family child care business. It made you a leader. And with more experiences, development, and learning comes a lot more leadership development! Self-sufficiency and Interdependence Effective leadership encourages a person’s or a group’s growth in self- sufficiency and interdependence. We foster self-sufficiency when we work to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to contribute to the leadership process—growing into our own leadership potential and assisting others in growing into theirs. Effective leadership creates interdependence: we find ways to work together and draw on each other’s unique gifts and strengths so we can accomplish common goals and achieve great things. Take, for example, a new director who has just begun working in a child care center. She has a great vision for the future of the center and really wants teachers to participate more in decisions that affect the center’s LTL2_FINALpp.indd 4 11/4/09 3:21:07 PM