I talk to people about leadership and becoming a leader. Some of them wish they were more effective at being a leader, some wish other people were more comfortable with their leadership, and some are not certain that they even want to be a leader. All of them have questions, and many of their questions grow out of a common concern.
Each of them, in one way or another, doubt that they can be a leader. They often ask me whether I believe that anyone, and everyone, can be a leader.
Yes, anyone can be a leader. It is helpful to appreciate how we understand what being a leader is all about.
Some of us view leadership as developing a set of skills or practices; good leaders have those skills, bad leaders do not. Some of us see leadership as being about whether or not we have a leadership title, a position of responsibility. Some of us understand leadership as growing from a set of qualities, such as being articulate, being charismatic, being dynamic.
Each of us has our own favorite piece of the puzzle. The big picture of leadership is much greater, much deeper than the sum of these pieces.
The essential reason that anyone can be a leader is that becoming a leader is very personal. It does not require us to have a particular personality, or set of habits, or title. Becoming the leader you have the potential to be begins with knowing yourself.
The core of being a leader is knowing and leading yourself first.
I was brought up to be responsible. I have had some of the qualities people associate with leadership for as long as I can remember. People have given me leadership positions for most of my life. I worked hard to have good leadership habits. I was not a very effective leader until I woke up to the fact that I was asleep to myself.
The leaders who have inspired and taught me the most are people who knew themselves, and shared their true selves with me. They are not the most articulate or organized people I know, and some of them do not have very prestigious positions. They are, though, the leaders who have taught me how to be a leader. They are leaders I choose to follow.
It takes a great deal of effort to be a leader. It is not easy. There is never a point at which you arrive and your work is completed. You may not receive great financial rewards. You may not become famous.
Being a leader being on an adventure. It is a series of deep, engaging, fascinating relationships that begins with recognizing and appreciating your true self.
Can you be a leader?