If you Google leadership there will be many definitions and hundreds of pages on how to be a better leader, many step by step instructions, books galore….but does any of it really help us put the leadership dance into practice and truly take a lead? Of course not, because no book or seminar can create a spark from within our souls.
Being a manager or a director does not mean you are a leader. It is only a title, a title with some big and bigger responsibilities. But leadership is a carefully executed dance of behaviors, actions and decisions driven by a passion- for something, anything. Truly authentic leadership is something that comes only from one place. A place from within you, from your heart.
Personally, I don’t believe that leaders are born. I have seen too many people who started out stumbling in their leadership roles and blossomed over time into strong and inspiring leaders. Yes, some people have a natural ability to lead, but all of us are born with leadership potential. What truly gets us to use that potential is only one thing…our heart and our soul. And simply put, the only way to become a strong leader is to work on yourself. Truly commit to being a better you, a better person, and a role model. To work on yourself, you have to be able to reflect on your behaviors, actions, how you treat others and the decisions you make. Hence self-reflection is a core component to the development of your leadership muscles. Becoming that better you to pave the way to leadership means working on the qualities we all look up to; such as integrity, humility, accountability, passion… to name just a few. It means having a vision into the future, and sharing it with others, inspiring them to see it with you and want to follow you to this future. It doesn’t have to be the far away or a big future. It can be the future of tomorrow or even the one of today. Leaders don’t force their people to follow, they emulate that which others want to rally behind, by letting their passion shine through and touching the hearts of others.
I have been a firm believer that no matter your role, specialist or a merchandiser, you hold the power to be a leader. Look around, and reflect on your family, your group of friends and you work community. There is always that one person that seems to take the lead, rally people together and touch a nerve. A leader will make you feel proud, and you will want to do more for that person to make them proud and respect you the same way you respect them.
These are the people in our lives that inspire commitment, not just demand compliance. A manager, for example, any manager, can demand compliance but only a true leader can ignite commitment and create a spark from within.
I have met people who are natural leaders, they are not in management positions, but they are true leaders and some of them have no idea they even have such a quality within themselves. I can only hope one day to be more like some of these folks. None of them are perfect human beings and I don’t expect them to be, but they are real and humble about the fact that they are imperfect and they too stumble along the way like we all do. But those who I am inspired most by, give me something to look up to and want to be more like. They exhibit behaviors that I want to work on and that I myself want to show the world.
My hope for you, is that you will find that spark within you, that something that drives your passion, something you believe in and aspire to. And that you will take that spark and pair it with behaviors you honor and work each day to exhibit those behaviors. Don’t just wish you could be more like someone or do something- be it, do it. Leadership starts with you, within you, and by taking a leadership role in whatever speaks to your heart and by committing yourself to working on being a better you, you start the leadership revolution. If you wait to reach the title of manager or director to concern yourself with the qualities of a leader, you will miss out on the opportunity to work on yourself, manifest the leader from within you and make a difference.
So reflect, think, look back and look forward. And then just be, be that which you want to be and that which you believe in, and be it with a passion radiating from your heart that you let others see…. and the leader within you will shine through.
I have been asked if I ever considered writing recently by a few people randomly after I shared some ideas about work, career, life and being true to yourself. The concept sounds good, but I am not a writer. Yet the idea to start documenting my thoughts and ideas as I grow in my career and life path sounds interesting, liberating and an outlet that I so terribly need. I work in Human Resources, overseeing a team of talent management professionals. I coach, I advise, I love seeing people grow and become better. I am inspired by those who in influential positions, seem to not realize how inspiring they are. I love the trait of humility. Follow my blog and maybe we can make a change together- to make life and work one of less greed, less judgement, less stuffiness and one of true inspiration. I am on a mission to help people love their jobs and find their passions as they stumble through the school of life. By working on being a better you, reflecting, self-exploring…I truly believe we can each find our passions in life and career both.