Finding the leader within

Leadership1What are your thoughts on leadership?

  • With today’s mantra of personal brand, perhaps leadership can feel very much like self-promotion, charisma and me, me, me.
  • Or is leadership the thing that they do, not you?
  • Or maybe you don’t manage a big enough team or project to consider yourself a leader?

For some people the idea of being a leader comes naturally and yet for others who may be equally skilled and competent the courage and confidence to lead must be mined, just like a diamond.

If you struggle with seeing yourself as a leader, or feel disconnected from the leader you are, here are some questions to help you dig deep and find the leader within.

1. Does leadership come so naturally to you that you are not aware of it?  

You can be unconsciously so good at leading that you don’t realise what a skill it is. Think back, were you the one leading the other children around nursery school or encouraging a revolution around school dinners? Consider your natural leadership skills and how you can leverage them more consciously.

2, Have you experienced a struggle in your life that you have overcome?  

For some, leadership comes from this hardship and struggle.  It could be family, health, education, poverty, cultural or political situation.  Overcoming struggle is an act of leadership and builds your leadership muscle, but you may be overusing some muscles and not using others enough.

3. Is there a cause that you are passionate about that you champion?    

Think Martin Luther King, Aung San Suu Kyi or Gandhi, leaders who have championed a cause so strongly and developed a huge following in doing so. The leader within was revealed from through their cause, they might say that they had no choice but to lead. What are you compelled to, lead on, even if it might not make sense on paper.

4. What is the unique combination of experiences that have made you who you are?  

Every experience, training course, job choice, holiday, conversation, and article you’ve read has shaped you.  It’s rare that we put these learning experiences together to see the big picture of who we are and what we stand for, but when you do, you’ll notice that each experience has helped you learn more about what it means to lead.

5. Would you follow you?

The final question is would you follow you?  It’s the most important question, because if you wouldn’t follow you, who would? Whether you answer yes or no, it requires some reflection.  If yes, you can start to unpack the skills qualities that make you the leader you are, and if not then you must seek out what stands in your own way. This could be that you feel unable to be authentic or feel constrained. Whatever it is will get in the way of uncovering the leader within until you’ve tackled it.

Finding the leader within is important work; you may need the support and challenge of a mentor or leadership coach to take you through the process in a disciplined and focused way.

One of the five questions above will resonate with you. Use it to understand the values that are the core of your leadership, in order to lead yourself and your business to success. through the process in a disciplined and focused way.

Jenny Garrett

Executive coach

Jenny is an executive coach, speaker,  and author of Rocking Your Role. She is a founder of Reflexion Associates, a leadership consultancy; and guest on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. Jenny is passionate about challenging leaders to make a positive difference, motivating women to live their best life, and inspiring authentic leadership. Jenny mentors internationally for the Cherie Blair Foundation.