Meet a startup legend: you. One day, in the blink of an eye and without any warning whatsoever, everything changes—you’re no longer just the person with her head down doing what she needs to do; instead, your name is on everyone’s lips from marketing to finance as they’re looking for that one magical solution or answer from across every department. The next thing you know? You’ve gone viral—and if it feels like there are too many eyes watching over you these days (including those who have never seen fit before), well, then all I can say is welcome!
One of the most surprising things that leaders today have in common is that they’ve unknowingly entered their role. Chances are if you’re an entrepreneur reading this, then this has been your story as well. One day you were focused on just one task at hand. Before long, it seemed like everything had changed without warning—it was no longer about just doing what’s expected for your position; now, instead, there’s a whole team to think about with more people counting on them than ever before. Suddenly, we are all eyes watching how efficient or successful we can be and whether others have faith in our ability to lead the team into success.
One thing is for sure: when you feel honored enough to enter into such a position, it’s a little like being caught in the running of the bulls—there’s no time to look around or even think–you just put on your blinders, charge forward and hope for the best.
Now that you’ve had some experience with leading others (and, by extension, yourself), I’m sure there are also times when it feels like your expertise is being questioned just because you’re new at it. In this case: never mind them! What they don’t know is that leadership isn’t something that can be learned from textbooks or seminars. Rather, it comes from within as an innate ability to tap into our personal power and act confidently in the face of challenges. And yet, several consultants seem to believe differently…
According to Brené Brown—social researcher and author, people who have entered into leadership roles unknowingly (as I’m sure you did at some point!) often feel caught up in a sort of identity crisis where they don’t know if they should continue to let it define them or rather break free from the role altogether. Brené Brown Dare to Lead is about being willing to feel our own fear and vulnerability, even if it’s not comfortable; indeed, this is the only way we can break free from feeling lost when we find ourselves facing unfamiliar territory or situations—it’s all about going into that unknown with courage.
Indeed, when we find ourselves feeling like this, there’s good news and bad news—the bad news being that this is a pretty common experience for people who’ve found themselves in positions to lead others unexpectedly. On the other hand, though, according to Brown, there’s also some good news since many of us have successfully navigated this identity crisis and come out into roles where we can lead with greater ease.
The important thing that you should know about leadership isn’t found in a textbook. Rather, true leadership comes from within just as easily as it goes without saying; indeed, anyone who has ever led another person, whether in business or personal life, has been able to do so because they themselves are naturally attuned to their inner energy and feel confident whenever called upon to act.
That said—when I say “natural,” I don’t mean something that’s easy or effortless, though—rather, leading yourself comfortably means having the strength and resilience needed not only to feel our own feelings deeply but also to be able to rise above them.
One of the things that I’ve learned in my readings on leadership is that little by little, we can gain confidence as leaders even though it may not seem like it at first. More importantly, whenever we do reach for this invisible ledge (our own potential) and dare to believe in our ability to make a difference, then our inner positive energy will begin to affect those around us so much so that others are drawn toward us believing in our ability to lead them too.
And so there you have it—the secret sauce of what makes an effective leader is simple after all: you just need to stay true to yourself (your natural abilities) and allow your experience with leading others to grow naturally out of who you already know yourself to be! And looking back—this is the story behind your leadership role, whether you realize it or not.