An Important Message for Reluctant Leaders

This may not be scientific, but about 20% of people you’ll encounter are “natural born” leaders.

They’re the people who jump up and organize everyone if a group activity is being planned. They’re charismatic, decisive, and often directive. They have the skills and personal qualities we tend to associate with leadership. 

But what about the rest of us? Does that mean we can’t exercise leadership? Absolutely not. 

Leadership skills are not a pre-requisite to lead.

I’m not saying skills aren’t necessary. I’m saying you can’t wait around for the day you’ve magically acquired the skills. If you do, you’ll be waiting for a long time.  Becoming a leader is something that happens by you, not to you.

If you think you need to demonstrate leadership before taking action, important needs will go unaddressed. People you care about won’t get what they deserve. Social causes you are passionate about won’t get your support.

What’s worse, your inaction will amplify the doubts, fears and judgments most of us have:

“I don’t know enough.”

“I make bad decisions.”

“What if I make a mistake?”

Or simply, “I suck.”

Meanwhile, nothing is getting done and time is marching on.

The good news is none of this is necessary. You can begin your leadership journey even if you don’t have all the necessary skills. Being motivated to take that first step…and then another and another…is far more important than skill. 

How do you think people hone the skills of leadership? They learn by doing. They try something and evaluate how it worked, make adjustments for next time.

The key quality of successful leadership: An attitude of learning, not a belief that leadership skills are inborn.  So go try something and learn from it!

For an excellent resource, check out Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck.