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The why: Anyone can be a leader. It starts by accepting the fact that you are one whether you know it or not. Maybe you’re a diamond in the rough right now, and that’s okay, but you can’t stay that way. Start today and build a life of influence with the folks around you.
Does it feel like everyone is talking about Leadership? It seems to be everywhere you look in news feeds, on blogs, and around the office. Does it feel a little cliche’? Have you ever wondered what it means to really be a “Leader” and what it takes to become one? John Maxwell says that Leadership is Influence, nothing more and nothing less. Influence comes in a few forms, namely either by title or respect (influence). Both forms can get you places, more money and stature, but only one can carry over into eternity. Only one can be truly fulfilling. Wondering where you should start? There are lots of thoughts on what you need to do, and I’d like to start with the thoughts that are in your own head.
You’re a Leader. Think it, Believe it.
Your leadership journey will begin the day you start believing that you are one, and you take the next step to become a better one. You can’t be a leader if you think you’re fine where you are. If you think you’ve arrived because you have the title, you’ve ceased in your quest to be a leader.
Additionally, as Leaders, we must have a healthy view of ourselves. Mistakes are part of being a leader because our experiences are where we lead from, our experiences help us grow. Humility is what helps us recover from bad experiences, and it also helps us build our team when things go right. We are always bigger than me.
Address yourself as a leader. Out loud, and in your thoughts. When I started Highlands College, I noticed from the beginning that any communication sent to the students had the salutation “Leaders”, or “Dear Leader”. They were intentional to speak who I was becoming, and not who I was at that moment. I’m still not a perfect leader, but I am one none the less.
Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
In 2019, I was in the middle of a career change. I knew there were challenging days ahead, and I was going to be stretched into places I’d never been before. So, I took on the mantra of being comfortable with being uncomfortable. No longer would I defer problems or challenges, I was now going to eagerly embrace them, and run towards them.
Unless you’re naturally wired to run into fires (I’m not), your first reaction will be to flee, make amends, or let someone else handle it. The truth is, in order to grow into your leadership potential, you will have to step into those uncomfortable places where you may not know exactly what to do. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Do what you think is best. Make decisions with integrity, speak the truth in love and kindness, and with a still heart.
Embrace the Process
Change is hard. We naturally don’t like doing things that we’re bad at, and the first time we start doing the things we need to do, we will be bad at them. But don’t quit. Don’t just go through it, grow through it.
Growth as a leader is an ongoing process. There will never be a point where you can say “I’ve arrived”. You’ve heard it said that you don’t become a leader in a day, you become a leader every day. With intentional living, focused effort, and a passion for solving problems and helping others have success.
Love those you Lead. Unconditionally
At the end of the day, leadership is always about someone else’s needs. While personal leadership is a thing, being a leader of others is never about you. As you sew into others’ lives and see your team members have success, your fire will grow, and it will feel amazing. I would discourage the fake it until you make it mindset here, and just go ahead and decide that you love even the most unloveable on your team. Our Pastor always says “Choices lead, feelings follow”. So, go ahead and make the choice to love those you lead.
Becoming a leader takes intentionality and lots of humility. Don’t get discouraged with perceived failures because it’s in those times that we grow the most. Reflection is a critical component to understand what went right and wrong and to grow from your experience. You’ve got this. Your leadership journey is already underway, so be courageous, and step out of your comfort zone. Proverbs 27 says “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Believe it today! You are a Leader.