Leaders and Leadership

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I am so often asked about leadership. The questions vary in format but some of the topics are:

  • Why do we not have more X (insert strong/female/young/transparent), type of leaders?

  • What is wrong with these leaders?

  • How can we get more people to step up into leadership roles?

  • What are the secrets to being a good or great leader?

  • How do we develop leaders? 

When I am asked these questions I am often a  bit lost for words, and those who know me, know that rarely happens. I often respond with something clumsy to say that it is a complex question and that it is not a simple solution or something like that. The way I answer this rarely leaves me (and Im sure the other person), feeling satisfied that the topic has been discussed well or that any real solutions to the challenges have been reached. As this is not my usual reaction I have pondered why this is so? Why do I stall at this question as often as I do? 

Today it has occurred to me that the reason I still struggle to answer this question is the actual answer to the question itself. The reason is not that I don’t have data or information on leadership and how it is formed and developed, because I have studied it at length,  but that for so long I did not see myself as a leader. 

If I look back at my history, in one way or another I have lead. There are stories in my family from my kindergarten years of ‘taking control’ of situations to support other children or teachers. I have lead sporting teams, groups, work teams and companies. However it is only in recent years that I identified myself as a leader. 

This leads me to ask the question that if this has happened to me, and I have held obvious leadership roles, could it be happening to others also?

The word leadership often conjures up notions of position and control. Often when we first learn the word it is in a school or community context where the ‘leader’ is the person in charge. The person who tells others what to do and has a title to indicate that exactly. We are not really asked about ‘leadership’ as an act. What leadership means, what is its purpose and what it can create? And leaders and leadership are two concepts that can be very different. Unless fortunate, most people have never been asked how they lead in their own lives. I have heard people say that categorically they are not a leader, and yet in only 5 minutes of discussion about their lives it becomes abundantly clear that they are the standout leader in not just their lives but in the lives of their family or team. 

I have met mothers who do not see themselves as leaders and yet their children are out in the world making a difference in some way. According to JC Maxwell in his book leadership Gold the uppermost level of leadership is a leader who creates other leaders, so by this definition they truly are achieving leadership excellence. 

So going back to the questions I have been posed and the answer to them. I feel the answer lies within ourselves. When we can see our own lives as a masterpiece that we have lead with powerful and graceful leadership we will be able to acknowledge this in ourselves. This will in turn give us the capacity to take these skills and apply them elsewhere. This will give us the confidence and clarity to know our own skills and qualities that we would bring to a leadership role of any kind. And with this we would have no fear or trepidation, because we would know that we are doing this every single day of our lives. Leading our own choices, our own decisions and making our lives of our own design.


Leadership Gold Author: John C Maxwell

Leaders without Titles Author: Robin Sharma

Blog Written by Bettina Tornatora