Have you ever experienced a stadium wave? That magical moment when thousands of people get up from their seats, raise their arms to the sky — cheering, crying, connecting with strangers. An invisible flow of energy filling their bodies and souls. It’s powerful, uniting, and real.
But where did that wave actually come from?
We founded WaveMakers to prove that anyone can be a leader in their own, unique way. Far too often, we get distracted by corporate ranks and job titles — although we all know: a title doesn’t make a leader, and not every leader needs a title. Leadership comes in many shapes and forms. Doesn’t it?
Greta Thunberg, Kamala Harris, Stephen Hawking, Elliot Page,… Looking into the big world out there, we see so many diverse leaders that inspire us with their unique experiences and abilities. But looking at our corporate offices, the leadership ranks are mostly not that diverse. And even if they are, they tend to be less authentic and bold. Less inspiring.
That’s a problem. It’s a problem for everyone that differs from the current leadership norm because of who we are or where we’re from. We experience impostor syndrome: hiding behind the “mask of success” hoping that nobody finds out that we don’t belong here. We experience self-doubt: constantly comparing ourselves to a very different leadership benchmark, and beating ourselves up for not being decisive, independent, or assertive enough.
And to make things worse: many leadership programs out there even reinforce this gap by training individuals to meet just that existing, common leadership ideal. Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic calls it “Marlboro Man” leadership. But how on earth could we become that type of leader without losing ourselves in the process. And do we really want that?
We want to be authentic and bold. Own our accomplishments, be respected and proud. We want to take responsibility for something bigger than ourselves. Lead our own way and inspire others to find their path.
I personally relate to this challenge because I’ve been the only woman in the room for most of my career in Tech. So grateful to have a seat at the table that I overvalued others’ opinions, and ignored my own intuition at times. Not proud to say that I preferred not to hear sexist jokes of my colleagues, and did not speak up in many situations, because I was worried to reveal one simple fact: not fitting in. My wave-making partners and friends have experienced similar situations: feeling discouraged to speak up or step up due to their cultural backgrounds, social class, experience, looks.
Every one of us has their own unique, painful story.
And we know that there are many people out there that are extremely talented, driven, and full of leadership potential, but feel discouraged, weak, or even silenced at times. They work in environments that make it easier for some, and more difficult for others. They know the ups and downs of finding their own path, as they attempt to outgrow themselves without losing who they are in the process.
Our community, WaveMakers, is for everyone who wants to be a leader in their own, unique way. Because leadership isn’t a job title. It’s a decision to be made and a mindset and skillset that can be learned.
Never forget that a wave is a movement that comes from within. It’s self-generating and self-governing. A flow that is unstoppable. Your flow. It’s up to you to stand in your power and direct your own waves, or let them flow as the external forces lead them.
Outgrow yourself. Join forces. Be you.