Not every leader is busy making the world a better place. Some are leading for the sake of their own agenda. I believe people with strong leadership qualities should feel obliged to improve the general environment even if it's only with a small following in their direct purview.

Smart leaders understand how to use their gifts in effective ways. They identify opportunities where they can improve the lives of others and benefit the greater good. Here are 6 examples of how a small amount of influence can improve the lives of many.

1. Break the status quo.

Most of the world functions easiest in a state of inertia. This state of rest often leads to complacency and bureaucracy that even the participants and perpetrators find frustrating. Smart leaders recognize the stall and shake things up. They simply instigate a few key players to trigger a domino effect of positive change and efficient improvement.

2. Move against the grain.

Just because there is strong momentum heading a certain way, doesn't mean the group is not headed off a nasty cliff. Smart leaders look ahead and shift the momentum in the most beneficial way despite conventional wisdom or emotional resistance.

3. Instigate new thinking.

Most people like to get comfortable in a rhythm of confidence. That's why they are resistant to changes and disruption. But smart leaders know you need to innovate to truly evolve. They are experts in stimulating creative, game changing ideas from the group to move everyone forward.

4. Expand upon intuition.

A team exploring new territory with no prescribed path to follow can freeze and stumble. Smart leaders create certainty and momentum from small signs of success, giving teams the confidence to move forward without reticence or insecurity.

5. Quiet the naysayers.

The road to success is often paved with cynicism and negativity. Pessimism can be infectious. Smart leaders know how to answer objections with sound fact and theory. They protect the team from being disaffected by those who are scared and closed-minded.

6. Inspire a movement.

One idea or single act is rarely enough to change the world or even a company. Smart leaders know how to formulate a compelling vision, and articulate a carefully crafted message with well placed empathy to lift others up and engage them in a noble purpose.