“I’m not really a leader.”
Not surprisingly, that is a statement I hear quite a bit as a leadership coach. Many people are so caught up in the day-to-day, the have-to’s, that they completely lose sight of the impact they have on the lives of those around them.
“Well, that’s just what I do.”
This is probably the statement I hear almost as much as “I’m not really a leader.” Whether it’s taking care of a 3-year old toddler or a $30 million-dollar business with a hundred employees (or both simultaneously), people begin to see the work they do as normal. They no longer see the extraordinary ideas, effort, and results that are borne of what they see as small, insignificant tasks.
You’re Already a Leader: Learning to See Your Impact on the World
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
— John Quincy Adams
Perhaps you are reading this and seeing yourself in these two statements. You are starting to think about the “little things” you do every day and how they impact yourself, others, and the achievement of much broader goals. You are beginning to realize not only how your actions impact others, but that what and how you do those things are unique and special to you. This is your moment of leadership awareness.
See your goals
Yet how much do we truly see our goals? By “seeing” our goals, I mean seeing them for what they really mean to you. What do your goals ultimately say about what you want for your life and the lives of those around you? Goals are not just finish lines off in the distance that you’re trying to reach. They are a reflection of who you are, what is important to you, and what you are working towards becoming in the future. Your goals are you. It may not seem like it, but when you sit down and list out all your goals and aspirations, take a moment to see them not as tasks and to-do’s, but instead as a reflection of yourself.
Leadership is the ability to motivate and inspire others to strive towards a common goal. By understanding how the goals you have for your career, your business, your family, or your life reflect who you are, you begin to understand your own motivations for reaching those goals. When you know your own motivations, your purpose, you can better understand how to connect to and inspire others, even if what inspires them is different from you.
Identify your influence on others
Influence can be powerful, whether it is wielded like a sword or whispered like a prayer. Influence doesn’t come to us through a fancy title or a big bank account. We all know people who have one or the other yet who inspire little confidence from those around them. Influence can be earned by your skill and ability to produce results. Influence can also flow from your own authentic passion and commitment. Maybe you don’t have the background and pedigree, but others are inspired by something intangible within you that speaks to their own goals and desires, or to their personal feelings towards you. Think about the influence you have in various parts of your life, and identify what it is that draws others to you. Who do you influence and why do they follow your lead?
Leadership requires understanding where your influence comes from and making sure you use it in a way that is aligned with your authentic self and the goals you want to achieve. When your influence is corrupted by things that are detrimental to your goals, or even more importantly, to the people who trust and believe in you, that influence fades quickly. Whatever the source, influence is never taken. It is given, and can be rescinded when abused.
Raising your leadership awareness can be an uncomfortable process. Most of us are not taught to sit back and think to themselves, “Why am I so awesome?” We’re taught that humility and hard work are what yield benefits in our lives and careers. We may say things like “Oh, I didn’t really do much” or “Anyone could have done it.”
Yet to truly be a leader, we must begin to tap into the parts of ourselves that are unique and dynamic. We must consciously embrace that there are special traits within us that are so powerful that they inspire others not only to believe in us, but to take incredible actions that defy their own self-perceived limitations and bring us closer to achieving shared goals.
You are already a leader. Now is the time to recognize your leadership abilities and consciously utilize them to make a difference.