A Leader’s Decision
To lead or not to lead? That is the question. When we meet challenges that seem too enormous to solve, when unexpected change derails our plans, when our resolute values and principles are tested, or when we are challenged to step outside of our comfort zones to try something new, we are being called upon to lead.
Once faced with these opportunities, we may find ourselves in a quandary of whether or not we actually want to step up and lead.
Why is it so hard?
The hesitation to lead is real.
What if I make a mistake? What if I let others down? What if I don’t have all the answers?
These very real doubts and fears can keep us from taking the leap to lead. Your internal critic (that voice in your head) may tell you “no”, for many different reasons. But, you know who else has felt this hesitation to lead? Everyone else.
Those worries and concerns are not something to be ashamed of, they should be embraced because they show how much we care. When we lead we assume responsibility. We take on the responsibility, not only for ourselves, but usually for a team, the individuals within it, and the overall outcome or results. This can be a daunting thought for anyone, especially as the number of people you can influence and impact grows.
But, any leadership opportunity can have negative or positive outcomes. We can’t let fear of failure control us. As soon as they do we rob ourselves of the opportunity to be successful. Don’t think about every reason you shouldn’t lead, think about all of the reasons why you should.
Why is it important?
It’s tough to grow as a leader if you never get the chance to practice. Deciding to lead in many situations will provide you with the ability to improve your leadership skills. You may make mistakes, but these are golden opportunities to become a better leader. This, in turn, will better prepare you for the next opportunity to lead. It becomes a cycle of growth that allows you to fully embrace the leader you truly are and allow others to see you in that same capacity. Your influence as a leader can then actually begin to impact those you are leading, giving them the chance to be empowered to make their own leadership decisions. They will see you and know that they too can become the leaders they want if they follow the examples you have set forth through your leadership. Your confidence to move through your hesitation to lead can inspire others to do the same and create a unique cycle of leadership that can change individuals and communities alike. You can potentially impact many different people, all by starting with a simple “Yes.”
What about ‘following?’
Often, we generalize leadership as the act of stepping up, taking the reins, and guiding others to a vision. Following, on the other hand, often has a negative connotation, I immediately think of sheep being mindlessly herded. We have a tendency to forget that deciding to follow is just as challenging and honorable of a choice as choosing to lead.
Following can be misconstrued as conformist, indifferent, or even cowardly, but true followership is passionate, intentional, and engaged. The choice to follow: to contribute to something bigger than yourself, to challenge the status quo, and to serve others before yourself requires the ability to know when to step up or step back and the impact that that will have on others and the cause. It also takes a leader to be able to follow.
Every day we choose whether or not we want to be leaders in our own lives. It takes strength to be the first one to volunteer and put ourselves out there. We should make the decision to lead because we are unique and worthy individuals who can positively impact others and contribute to an even greater future. We don’t have to move mountains or change the entire world, we just have to be willing to take the first step.
How do you define leadership?
Brainstorm all of the qualities of a great leader that you can think of. Think, too, about the different people that you look up to as leaders and what it is about them that inspires and empowers you.
Next, narrow down your list to the Top 5 essential characteristics that all leaders should possess.
Now, compare yourself to your own list. Write down the things you say/do that embody each quality as well as things that you say/do that may detract from each quality.
Choose one quality that you really want to work on and make a tangible and actionable commitment that will help you to develop those skills or traits. Take note of how that begins to change your life!
*Meet the Author*
Joe Pazmany works with Leadership Inspirations developing training methods and experiential content while he completes research for his Doctorate in Organizational Leadership.