Am I a leader?

How often do you ask yourself the question;

“Am I a leader?”

If you work in the community sector chances are you don’t ask the question very often, if ever.

And why would you?

Leaders are the first ones with their heads on the chopping block, they have big decision to make, they are the meat in the sandwich wedged between the community you serve, your board, staff and probably your family as well.  Leaders get all of the headaches, they do all of the troubleshooting and when the proverbial hits the fan it’s the leaders name that’s called first.

Leaders are regularly featured in Australian public media as being not smart enough, not warm enough, not loved enough, not making good enough decisions.  Visit the local pub on a Saturday afternoon and you’ll hear speak of leaders who are up themselves, conceited, bossy, unfair and clueless.

Put a foot in the wrong direction and the world will know.  Do the right thing and nobody cares.

It’s little wonder that people, particularly in the community sector steer away from the ‘leader’ title.

I did too.

For a REALLY long time.  Why?  Of course for all of the above-mentioned reasons, but there was more than that.  I thought it wasn’t my turn to be a leader.  I told myself I couldn’t call myself a leader at first because I didn’t have enough qualifications and when I fixed that it was because I didn’t have a fancy title and then it was because I didn’t have enough experience.  And then I just forgot about the whole leadership conversation and went about my merry way.

But this created a problem.

The problem was that I was leading.  But I was recognising it as different things.  And the problem that this created for me is that people were listening, they were following but I wasn’t stepping up.  I wasn’t thinking about how I wanted to lead, and then I started getting annoyed when people started asking me “what next?”

The problem was that I waiting to be anointed a leader, but that ship had long since sailed and I hadn’t noticed.

And one day I realised.  It was like a lightening bolt shocking me into reality.  I already was a leader and it was time to start being an INTENTIONAL LEADER, as opposed to an accidental leader.

And what difference did that make you might ask?

It’s pretty simple really.  When you lead with intention you are aware that others respect and consider your decisions and directions.  When you lead with intention you choose your words carefully because you realise they have influence.  An intention leader can then discover an authentic leadership style.  And stop wasting time sweating the small stuff, step up and get on with it.

Yes, there are plenty of reasons for you to avoid your role as a leader.

But don’t you think it’s time you asked the question – “am I a leader?”

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