Meet your inner leader (yes, you have one)

Scrabble tiles spelling PROVE THEM WRONGOh, the things people say about leadership!

Leaders are born, not made. (This is so old and outdated that I can’t find a source – but we’ve all heard it, all too often.)

Only one in ten people have the natural skills to be a manager / leader. (That’s from research giant Gallup!)

Introverts can’t be leaders. (Susan Cain, author of Quiet, says otherwise.)

You have to {be fearless / have the right education / know more than everyone else} to be a leader. (All-too-common beliefs, right?)

I’m not a leader. (That’s from pretty much everyone’s inner critic.)

I’m here to say that they are all untrue.

We all have an inner leader. All of us.

The question is, how do we want to express that leadership?

Some people appreciate the formal role of “leader.” They sincerely enjoy inspiring, motivating, and encouraging their people. (That is, of course, a small and incomplete list of leadership qualities.)

Some have zero desire to manage or lead people. Which means that, when they’re put at the head of a team, they generally don’t do very well. Let’s face it: none of us are great at things we don’t want to do and don’t enjoy doing, and the fact that so many companies have no upward-mobility career path except into leadership is – simply – awful.

But that doesn’t mean those people aren’t leaders.

As I wrote in this article, we all lead in some way every day. We set examples for our colleagues, families, friends, neighbors, communities on- and off-line, in the things we do and say. We tacitly, implicitly, give permission to those witnessing our behavior to behave in similar ways. (Or to be so turned off by that behavior that they go in the opposite direction – but that’s still a form of leadership!)

In the end, how we lead in the world is an expression of our values. The people who stand out to us as extraordinary leaders – think Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, Mahatma Gandhi, and so many others we can all think of in the world and in our own communities – are, when it comes down to it, taking a stand for their deepest beliefs and values.

We don’t have to do this on a world stage, as they have done.

We can do it in our own ways, within our own communities, at our own workplaces.

In fact, in one way or another, we already do this.

So what’s my point, then, if we already do this?

My point is, if you become intentional, you will make a bigger impression – a bigger impression of the sort that matters to you, that has meaning, that makes you feel strong and proud of who you are.

We all have an inner leader. And we're each responsible for how it shows up - in a way that makes sense FOR US as individuals. This is an invitation to meet YOUR inner leader.Click To Tweet

You have an inner leader. It’s up to you to meet, recognize, and welcome that aspect of yourself.

Sometimes it’s less about not wanting to be a leader in the formal sense, and more about not knowing how. The failure to train and support fledgling leaders is a dreadful waste of time, energy, and good people.

Are you an executive wondering how to develop your managers into leaders? We really should talk! Training and support are not as costly as you might think, especially when compared to the expense of losing quality employees.