Choosing leadership

6258e42f90176654e132fb1a47fa71a7Take a moment and ask yourself what leadership means to you.  As you do so, consider the following question:

  • What qualities must someone have to be a leader?
  • What circumstances must someone have in order to be a leader?
  • What position must someone hold to be a leader?
  • Can anyone be a leader?

For most people, the first question is easy.  Common answers include:

  • Charisma
    • People liking you
  • Intelligence
    • Knowing what the right thing to do is
  • Authority
    • People doing what you tell them, and saying what needs to be said
  • Fairness
    • Even if someone gets neglected in the short-term, it balances out in the long-term

In my experience, people usually fail to consider softer qualities like compassion and empathy, or the less obvious qualities like being at choice, having a vision, and being a stand for the people around you.

As far as circumstances are concerned, most people hold that being a leader requires a combination of good fortune, connection and commitment.  The circumstances required are that you're already in a position of authority, or that you were born into a family or position where you knew a lot of people.  Lastly, most people hold that leadership is irrelevant to people that aren't already in positions of authority..

Your answers to these questions reflect the story that you already hold to be true about leadership.  Given your answers, ask yourself what is not possible.  Is it possible for you to be a leader in your current situation and circumstance, given the answers you've provided?

While some of you will cleverly answer "yes", sensing my trap, for the most part, we generally hold disempowering views about leadership.  More insidiously, we hold that leadership is a position or a "lottery", rather than a choice that any of us gets to make.

As soon as we buy into our story of leadership being a position (or something that we can't effect until we have changed our circumstances), we give away our ability to act as leaders, and put ourselves at effect to those circumstances.  "If only my boss would read this article" you think to yourself.

[Tweet "If only my boss would read this article..."]

The fact is that the single most important aspect of leadership is being at choice and at cause.  Being consciously and consistently at choice and being at cause for what we want in our lives, regardless of our circumstances.  Regardless of where we are currently working.  Regardless of what we can currently achieve in our circumstance.  Regardless of how close the position we currently have is to where we want to be.  Most importantly, regardless of who we are responsible for, and who we are responsible to.

Powerful leadership comes from the way we carry ourselves.  By refusing to be at effect to our circumstance, we can change ourselves, our situation, our circumstance, and those around us for the better.  A leader doesn't look at their current circumstance and think "when I'm in charge, things will be different".  They take that vision and begin affecting it immediately - right from where they are.

Take a look in your life and identify some of the places where you're letting yourself off the hook.  Where, rather than being at cause for what you want to create in the world, you are being at effect to the circumstances.  Being a leader means acknowledging whatever is showing up in your life as perfect, and working from there.

35b8980417bba3b777cd740531b0a369Here are some places to look:

  • Relationships
  • Job
  • Finances
  • Career (longer term vision)
  • Where you live
  • Family

What is it that you are holding yourself in place with?  Where are you playing the victim, and what is that making impossible in your life?

With these ideas in mind, create a list of things that you want to be accountable and at cause for in creating in your life.  What are the things that you are willing to be a demand for in your life, regardless of what the current circumstances are telling you?  Then, post this list somewhere, and take some action toward one of these items each week.

Remember - leadership is a choice.  Not a position.