Don’t waste yourself. You can – you must – lead.
Every connection, challenge, problem, pain-point, opportunity, or exchange, opens doors to leadership – to make things better.
- Embarrassment with your desire to make things better.
- Waiting for titles or position. Leadership isn’t a title.
- Beat-down from do-nothing detractors.
- Traditional command and control leadership.
Every time you stifle your longing to matter,
you lose a piece of yourself.
Are you uncomfortable with the terms leader and leadership? Redefine them. Leadership is:
- Influencing. Ask, “What’s important?”
- Seeking a step toward better. Ask, “What’s next?”
- Bringing value to others. Ask, “How can I help?”
- Solving problems with others. Ask, “Can we fix this?”
- Bringing yourself to challenges and opportunities. Ask, “What can I bring?”
If you can’t say, “I’m a leader,” say I’m an:
- Solution seeker.
- Next step taker.
- Value adder.
Don’t let others define you. Define yourself in terms of your passion. Stop muffling your inner longing to make a difference.
8 tips for finding your leadership:
- Give yourself permission. It’s always OK to do good.
- Be you. If you like organizing, then organize, for example.
- Help others know they matter. You matter most when you help others know they matter.
- Step toward better.
- Thank critics. “Thanks for telling me I can’t make a difference!” (sarcasm) Losers want you to lose too.
- Tell a friend you want to step up.
- Do something every week that develops you.
- Bring others in. Leaders connect rather than retreat.
If everyone leads, who follows? Leading includes following, supporting, and enabling. Leading isn’t fighting for power and control. Great followers have hearts of leaders.
Listen to secret, stifled yearnings that whisper, “You matter.” You’re surrounded by “ordinary” people who lead. Be one. Do something.
How can reluctant leaders find their leadership?
How can reluctant leaders find their leadership?
Fear in many different varieties keep people from stepping up, Dan.
But I think that most reluctant leaders find their true leadership when they give themselves permission, or as you have suggested, ask a friend to give them a push.
They must give themselves permission to stand up for what they believe in, stand against the tide of “how its always been done,” stand to hear their own voice speaking out loud.
Many people with great ideas sit and wait for someone smarter, or cooler, or better connected, or with a better platform or stage presence to do it. Reluctant leaders must find the courage within, and the self awareness of who they are and what they bring to the proverbial table, and choose soon or late, to stand.
Good post, as always, Dan.
I think you’re right Martina. It all starts with permission. Permission to matter.
You would think we wouldn’t need this but we do. Others help by giving permission but nothing beats giving ourselves permission.
Permission isn’t pushing ourselves to do what we don’t want to do. Permission is authorization to do what we already want to do but are holding back.
Such an important topic. Sometimes, we are the best qualified to lead because of our passion for a particular issue. Passion trumps experience. I was inspired by this quote from Charlotte Beers whom I met at a TED conference.
“One day you will want to say, this is actually the right thing to do. And when you turn around, they are following you… I just want you ready for every single moment of leadership that comes your way.”
My post based on that meeting… http://letsgrowleaders.com/2012/12/04/just-in-case-leadership-development/
I love that post, Karin!…
We need the courage to think and say things can be better. People are waiting for that kind of person.
Thanks for extending the conversation.
Start with Why!!!!!!!!!!!
If you get that why thingy set right in your wiring all sorts of wonderful things happen.
Dude asked “why you work here?” He says money!
NOPE-arooni!!!!!!!! hey I created a word. Allegedly!
He works there for money to provide for his family.
Now suppose you really need him to go all out today!
If you know his WHY, ask him if he helps you with this thingy it will enable him to really help his family.
We can spend all day pondering and bloviating and doing all kinda of things that sound all deep and stuff, or we can keep it simple and just get to the heart of the matter.
So asked that Dude yesterday, ok money huh! Ok I am gonna take 100 bucks from you. He would be mad. A 100 bucks worth. Then I told him I was gonna take one of his kids.
Anyone getting the point yet? Thought so.
Tip o the day! Read everything you can from Simon Sinek and another tip read everything you can about Gordon Bethune and quit messing around with stuff that is not the most effective.
Why start with why. We don’t always know.
Why as a theory is much easier for me to think about when I am doing something. I like beginning with “what”… what can we do. Let’s do something… Explore the why as you go.
I concur with the value of why as it speaks to purpose and intent. MY experience is, why is much harder to determine apart from a mission – a what are we doing.
Why start with why?
Limbic Brain that’s why start there check it out and you can see it as clearly as me.
We don’t always know but nothing more important once you look into it.
It is biological and makes perfect sense. Just take the time to watch what Simon says. You tube for FREE as is everything I offer except protecting houses. His 30 minute video on business and people.
And if u don’t watch and understand what he is saying what is your frame of reference to comment on the subject matter? Ouch!!!! Hehe
Odd thing is I should charge a ton then people might take what I say more seriously, silly humans.
Well if you understand what drives people, their why, then one could conclude getting the energy of what drives people in place first then getting what and how fall into place right nicely. Like putting the gas in the engine first, kinda helps.
Simon explains it better than me and all for free. Hope many watch and learn.
A good refined post about leaders and leadership. Can I add- Leader is a person, and leadership is the way, he or she carries him/herself. Leaders do follow, they do not fight for power. I absolutely agree with it. I also believe that degree of following others depends upon leadership style. It also depends upon the concern behind leadership. There could be many concern, for example, hunger for power, intention to achieve status, agenda to fulfill our inner desire etc. Leaders need to be open, transparent and show that they concern for others. The moment people perceive that leaders work for themselves, people stop following them. So, reluctance leaders may find it difficult to convince others because of their approach and intention. I do agree that every time, it is not necessary to follow, but leaders need to define and explain why they are reluctant to follow. Blind reluctance questions leadership philosophy. So, leaders need to have strong reason for not following others.
If I understand one of your key ideas, it may be reluctant for people to follow a reluctant leader. When reluctance suggest half-hearted or insincere, I see what you mean.
…be constructive, it will distinguish you at any level of the organization..
3.Beat-down from do-nothing detractors
Losers want you to lose too.
7.Do something every week that develops you
These are the three that spoke to me. I have to say that the first two always seem to wear on me after X amount of time and I find myself wanting to move on and I have to battle to get through the tough times. It is hard enough to work with people to solve the problems let alone fight through the beat downs.
I have really made an effort to get better every day over the last year and your blog is part of my routine along with several other blogs, books and listening to the people I work with everyday. It has made a difference.
Appreciate your work.
It’s really hard when you can’t choose your teammates. I feel for you. I didn’t even add the problem of people who beat down in the false belief they are helping.
I’ve been learning to lean into people by helping them get on my team by getting on theirs. I want to understand their hopes and dreams and then I’m transparent with my hopes and dreams.
It’s also to help others know what help from them looks like to you. Explain how people can help you. Sometimes being helped is not being helped, for example. “Just let me struggle for awhile.”
It’s also an profound act of courage to go to someone and say, “I need help, encouragement, guidance….”
Love your passion. You have my best.
Some thoughts about resistance and reluctance:
1) Leaders need to overcome both their own resistance and the inertia of people around them. According to Jellison, the best way to overcome resistance is by activation. Instead of confronting resistance directly, get the resisting person to help even a tiny bit.
2) People devote their time and energy to things that are important to them. The statement, “your actions speak so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying” is very true. To get things done, we need to CARE about outcomes, and inspire others to CARE about outcomes. Nothing inspires like a worthy cause and a self-sacrifing, intent, leader.
3) Leaders are most effective when they choose their priorities so as to focus their time and efforts on the important things.
Thanks Marc…I particularly enjoy #1. Engage people in finding a solution… “even a tiny bit” Powerful. One way to do this is by asking, “Can we fix this,” and waiting for a yes. The yes changes everything.
Glad you shared your insights.
For me, the essence of leadership boils down to wanting to help. To help people be better. To help your company do better. To help whatever cause you are passionate about be better. If people see you are sincere about your desire to help — that you are sincerely committed to putting others (people, causes) ahead of your personal ambitions, it’s not a big step to that leadership role.
Dan, your opening 4 rejection points — and the quote the follows them — are wonderful advice.
Love your essence of leadership. The outward focus of helping along with the upward orientation changes everything.
One thing I left out of this post that I’ll add here is leaders help others band together. They create connections around shared values/mission/vision. “Lets do this together.”
I left coalition building out because my focus was encouraging reluctant people to find their voice. Somewhere along the journey, we learn to help others find their voice too.
You are so right. The reluctance perspective that you’ve taken with today’s post is very interesting. Do people who are leaders set out to be leaders, or are they more inclined to find they have a skill (like helping) or a passion about something that makes their evolution into a leadership role a natural progression? I can clearly recall my first foray into leadership. It wasn’t because I had some grand plan about becoming a leader or even that thought I could be a good leader (just the opposite, in fact, since I stuttered badly until I was in my early 20s). It was because I found something I believed in and was passionate about. My passion overcame my reluctance.
I tried to pick a favorite item from this post and absolutely could not. If I had to, it would be resisting “beat-down from do-nothing detractors”. Wow! What a powerful thought. Sometimes, unfortunately, the do-nothing detractor is the boss; you must have the courage to rise above the corporate structure to influence your peers and drive yourself to better performance and outcomes. This is a long position on recognition/success, but it’s certainly the leader’s calling.
Thanks for the good word Justin and for being a regular contributor. Much appreciated.
There can be a negative flow or downward pull in organizations. Think of the enthusiasm that we enter a new job and how the organiztion drains it as time goes by.
Finding a positive – energy building – flow in our leadership must be at the top of the list for how to find success. Some suggest that managing our own energy is the most important thing leaders do. We can debate it, but it’s certainly on the list.
I”m taking from your comment .. .take control of your energy.
Absolutely, Dan. When we feel powerless, we must focus on what we can control– even if it’s limited to our attitude and energy.
Today’s post was exceptionally encouraging. I’ve been told by several of my peers over the past weeks that I’m selling myself short. It’s a constant balancing act between projecting over-confidence and retreating from leadership. There’s some value in placing less importance in how you think others may be perceiving you. As per Kouzes & Posner, much of leadership is finding one’s voice and leading with the heart.
Thanks for sharing your journey with me. You are fortunate to have people speaking into your leadership. Although, sometimes it can be frustrating when we don’t know what to do with it.
You gotta love Kouzes & Posner.
” In order to be a good leader you must first learn how to be a good follower.”
I like that statement! How about you, Dan?
For sure!… one who can’t follow, can’t lead.
Liked your simplicity in defining what a leadership is all about. The way you have explained the terminology and what leaders should say [8 simple things] to remain successful. This is quite a precise list of qualities a leader should possess.
You may please add 2 other qualities to the list- ‘Communicate with conviction’ and ‘Clarity in thinking’.
Loved the post!
Great additions, Dr. Asher. Thank you
Dan, I had my “kapow” moment (or is it ka-ching?) when I read “Every time you stifle your longing to matter, you lose a piece of yourself.” Powerful words. Sadly, we are very often our own worst detractors, convincing ourselves we are not good enough, smart enough, the cause isn’t important enough, etc. Finding the courage to believe in yourself helps deal with the external doubters. #3, Helping others know they matter, may be a great place to start. Thanks for another great post.
KaChing, KaPow, AhHaa, or Shazzam.. 🙂
Love how you explain the “inner detractor.” It’s true. I hear that voice.
Here’s to regaining ourselves by giving ourselves away.
Thankful for your insights.
Leadership is about two tenets,listening and caring. Once these are demonstrated people consider you a part of them.Love people they will go the extra mile with your vision.
If everyone leads, who follows? Leading includes following, supporting, and enabling. Leading isn’t fighting for power and control. Great followers have hearts of leaders
This post demonstrates how to be a leader even if you’re not “the boss.” In fact, sometimes it’s easier to lead from the ranks, since the boss often doesn’t know as much about how people really think and feel as everyone else does; no matter how open he or she is, people are still more guarded in what they say to the one in charge. It’s a great way to test your leadership skills – do people follow your lead because they have to (boss) or because they believe you’re taking them the right way?