You’re Already a Leader

You’re Already A Leader

It seems like everyone is an expert on this topic today. I fire up my LinkedIn account and there are no less than two handfuls of articles in my feed. The trend that I’m noticing is that these articles are saying the same thing: The Top [x] Steps to Being a Good Leader. There is not a perfect formulaic method to becoming a leader because every individual has their own individual leadership qualities and vulnerabilities. At the same time, there seems to be assumptions around who is actually a leader. There are far more leaders around us than those at the top of a pyramid. Let’s explore leader and leadership.

If I write the word leader, what comes to your mind? A CEO? Your boss? The leader of a country? Those are indeed examples of leaders. For many, a leader is the top of the pyramid. The top job. The boss. The one who makes the decision.

If I write the word leadership, what comes to your mind? For me, I tend to associate leadership to the leader, but leadership can also span across the group. There are a horizon of leaders in a group. From being a basic contributor in a supportive role to leading the group, leadership greatly influences the group. Leaders and other members of the group depend on leadership for survival. The success of the group is dependent on how well the individuals can work together. (Perhaps a topic for another article.)

The journey of becoming a leader through leadership.

About five years ago, I sought the advice of my mentor on the topic of figuring out how to unlock my leadership potential. The way that I was approaching the internal inquiry was as if I was searching for missing piece of a puzzle. (Read: I was complicating my reasoning process.) The fact was that I didn’t need to “figure out” anything. My mentor offered me this response: “Emily, what if I told you that you’re already a leader?” This question caught me off guard. My mentor challenged me to give examples where I had showed up as a leader; and within the span of a conversation I felt enlightened that I may have been confusing being a leader and showing leadership. I can, in fact, have both qualities depending on the situation. From there, I’ve redirected my internal inquiries from seeking the top of the pyramid, also known as “the leader,” because the climb upward was not the best use of my energy.

Instead, I have focused on developing my muscle into my leadership style. For me, this has been a huge space to play in and one that seems to have limitless potential. To start, I adopted a growth mindset, curated the values of the Coaches Training Institute, and found ways to manage my time.

Ask yourself, “What does my version of leadership look like?”

As I wrote earlier, leadership is not formulaic. Really. Read that again. Leadership is not formulaic!

The beauty of leadership is that it can show up differently in all of us. Imagine your childhood friends — imagine the confident athlete to the quiet musician. There is often the assumption that the confident athlete would one day be a leader. However, we now know that, not surprisingly, confidence and quietness are not indicators of leadership or success in leadership. There are benefits to having a diverse set of individual personality qualities in a given group. Lately I’ve enjoyed pieces by Brené Brown, Seth Godin, and Ariana Huffington on introverts, mindfulness, and vulnerability. These traits are now talked about as qualities of strength and not weakness.

The journey of becoming a leader through leadership. Leadership comes in all shapes and sizes: proposing a new project, volunteering as a room parent in your child’s classroom, or participating in Big Brothers and Sisters. For some, it might as simple as speaking up in a meeting. For others, it might be volunteering to lead an initiative. Leadership is everywhere in our lives.

  • Peer-to-Peer Partnership: This could be a colleague, a friend, a sibling, who needs your help with something. Leadership is sharing your expertise to get something done.
  • Employee-to-Manager: Your boss needs assistance with a project. Instead of “just getting it done,” consider some unexpected touches into the project — giving an in-person two minute presentation instead of submitting over email garner some positive attention.
  • Participating in a meeting: If you’re usually the wallflower in a conversation, consider offering your expertise on a team decision. It will be unexpected and people will listen.

My version of leadership shows up differently than those around me. It will for you, too. I recommend first starting with asking yourself questions on what leadership means to you. From there give yourself some time to practice your leadership. Your potential is already there; don’t wait for “the opportunity” in terms of a job. The opportunity is the moment.

Emily Chardac is a global human resources professional specialized in Tech, FinTech, and Financial Services industries. She is a guest contributor in HR and Technology publications. Content in this article was written by the author and does not reflect her employer’s employment practices. Inquiries can be sent to emily@hrwired.com.