How many of your beliefs are stopping you from moving on to the next step in your evil plan for world domination?
In conversations with my peers, I’m learning that there is a disconnect between Who You Want to Be and Who You Believe You Are.
But first a story about how I was too bossy when I was six.
I grew up an only child. Which means all of my toys belonged to me.
Also, chaos and lack of direction causes a ton of anxiety inside. I’d rather take the charge than watch things spiral out of control because people lack structure & guidance.
But when there’s someone around who is also confident in their “large & in chargeness,” I have no problems supporting their claim to the throne.
So as a little kid (a precociously smart one at that), if there was ever a time with my cousins where chaos ensued (basically always), I had no fear about stepping up to explain what our made up rules would be.
Though I’d like to consider myself an enigma in this sort of thing, I suspect that you are probably a lot like me: There’s a time and place for you to be the boss, and when it’s time, you have no problem knowing exactly what you want from the situation.
And it’s really easy to say, “Yes, I want [the end result], where [these certain things] happen, with [particular outcome] which will make me happy.”
But collectively, we have a really big gap between what we want and who we believe we’re capable of being.
So while ruminating in the shower about this, I concluded that part of this disconnect has to do with what you believe to be true about yourself and your role (or lack of) as a leader.
Without any further ado, here are 4 Myths you probably believe about leadership:
- You’re either born a leader, or you’re not. It’s not something you can learn.
- Someone already IN a leadership role doesn’t need to practice being a leader, they just are.
- If you don’t have followers and have no intentions of having people follow you, you don’t need to learn how to be a leader.
- Being a leader means telling people what and how to do things.
Let’s talk about Myth #1.
“You’re either born a leader, or you’re not. It’s not something you can learn.”
Great leaders aren’t born. You can be taught you are a leader from a young age. Conversely, you might be mocked by grown ups (thanks, Aunt B) for being too bossy.
Either way, leadership skills and confidence are something that must be nurtured into being. And if you didn’t get that nurturing as a child, now that you’re a grown up, you have some serious work to do to Self Nurture those things into yourself.
Yes, I just made up that concept. Self Nurture. It’s what we do when our grown up self speaks to our inner five year old, teaching our little Self it’s okay to express those leadership qualities. Self Nurturing is any message we send to our inner five year old – and in this case, it’s teaching our inner child how to be a leader.
So if you’re not “leadership material” now, and you think you might want to be, it’s going to be up to your adult Self to figure out how to learn to do the thing. There are some great podcasts out there if you’re not already listening to them. (My current fave is called Hacking Your Leadership)
Next up: Myth #2: “Someone already IN a leadership role doesn’t need to practice being a leader, they just are.”
Possibly one of the most common mistakes I see in those already in leadership is not pursuing growth as a leader.
So many people assume that once you have “achieved the role” you no longer have to work for it. Oh contraire, my friends. If you are in a leadership role, you must continue the practice of learning – constantly seeking better ways to lead.
Once you have achieved status: Leader, that is when you have the responsibility to study your ASS off seeking new ways to communicate, inspire, motivate, and guide your team.
It’s really easy to get caught up in the minutia of planning and responsibilities. But any not-leader can do the tasks. It takes an actual leader-leader to be the pillar for those you serve (leaders serve their team).
For those of you who are already in the role, I challenge you to take some time today to think about ways you could be a better leader to your people. And after thinking about it, I challenge you to budget in time next week to address ways you can implement new leadership skills into your daily practice with your team.
Onward: Myth #3: If you don’t have followers and have no intentions of having people follow you, you don’t need to learn how to be a leader.
This one is a personal favorite of mine. And one I believed to be true for, oh, much of my career. Had I known 20 years ago what I know now, my career would have turned out SO much differently from where I’m at currently.
I was totally convinced from an early age that submission suited me far better than being in charge, and because I was completely snowed by this Myth, I never once questioned the possibility that I actually could do it. Since I wasn’t gonna lead, I didn’t need to learn the skills.
But leadership truly isn’t just about “being the boss.”
It’s a style of communication. It’s a style of inspiring and motivating those around you. And it’s a style of guidance that serves a greater good.
In evaluating my past role as an executive assistant (a mini-executive)/liaison, I recognize now that even though I never desired to be “the boss,” I could use leadership skills to get the job done and help my leader be the best he could be.
Not having a title or even the desire to be a leader is kind of a horseshit excuse for not learning ways of communication that lift others up. Or for not finding ways to gracefully be your best you to show others it can be done. If I had believed then what I know now to be true, I’d have spent a lot more time studying influence and encouragement. And maybe I’d have become a leader a lot sooner in life. Alas, no regrets.
And I hope you who are not leaders and who have no desire to be leaders heed my hindsight, too. You do need to learn these skills, too.
Lastly, we come up against Myth #4: Being a leader means telling people what and how to do things.
This one’s a funny one and it’s so basic that I kinda giggle when I spell it out this way.
No one boss was ever known as a great boss for telling people what and how to do things. Although, yes, a great leader also has foresight and strategic planning skills, leadership is much more about your relationship with the people whom you guide than it is about knowing what the future holds.
Yes, you should be able to paint a common picture for your team, because you want everyone to be able to take ownership in their role to the greater good’s success – but being the end-all say-so of what and how things happen will only make you and your team frustrated. Plans change. You and your team must have the ability to pivot.
And a great leader is the person who inspires the rest of the team to take informed action.
There’s a different feeling between the two types of “guidance.” One is a dictator telling it how it is, and the other is a mentor, teaching their people how to make the best decisions to keep the cog running.
Being a leader isn’t for everyone, they say.
And it’s legit to also point out that without supporting roles, there is no movement forward.
But don’t get sucked in to believing that you, too, couldn’t benefit from learning how to be a better leader. Some of the best supporting roles come from those of us who know exactly what it takes to be an excellent leader.
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Catch ya on the flipside.