Before I became aware of what leadership is, I was a follower. I did have very strong leadership ability latent in my being, and the ability to engage people to follow and support me, but I really did not know why that was. People will naturally follow a leader that is stronger and more equipped than them, and my love and partner James is a very influential natural born leader. I followed him for a long time, and continue to follow him as we take turns leading our family and our organization in our areas of strength.
When I started to look at myself differently, as an empowered person who has achieved or exceeded every youthful dream, my hunger to lead blossomed and grew. What I believe about leadership now is much different as a leader than it was when I had the mindset of a follower.
Before I saw myself as a leader, I thought that stronger leaders were better than me. They knew more, they had more resources, more innate talent, more ability, more opportunity, more choices…more more. In other words, I had less. It was a mystery to me how easy it appeared for these higher level leaders to do what they did. Things just seemed to be so much clearer to them and people were always there to support them.
Being an analytical thinker, I spent a good chunk of time trying to figure out and searching for what makes a great leader. As I did this, I began to uncover and discover in myself many of the qualities I admired in the leaders I was following.
Leadership is influence. It is the ability to connect and inspire. It is a process, not a destination, and it grows with every decision you make. Great leaders have the ability to see the big picture, to look ahead and see where they want to go. They love people and want to see them succeed and reach their own full potential.
Every person has strengths and weaknesses, and a great leader knows the power of having people who complement their own skills. Like a human body, we could not function if we were all heart, or all lungs, or all spleen. We need all of them to be alive. Leaders know their strengths and surround themselves with people who share their values but also have strengths in their areas of weakness.
Ultimately it is all about the mindset, the way you identify yourself which changes the view from which you are looking out into the world. It means referring to yourself when you speak and when you think as what you want to be. It means knowing that the doubting voice in your head is not working in your best interest. It means you have choices about what you believe about yourself. It means consciously choosing every moment to believe the best about yourself and what you are not only capable of, but required to do.
As a leader you have a great responsibility to those you lead. Your love for those that are following you should always remain forefront in your heart. Helping them to change their own mindset and see their immense power is the greatest gift you can give.