Congratulations! For the first time, you are now responsible for leading others – a work team, a volunteer effort, or just a group project for school – now what?
People will now see you and expect you to be a leader. The leadership realization usually comes shortly after you find yourself in a new position within an organization or group. Members of the group expect you to not only do your job, but they have expectations about your ability to be a leader – they want to be well led.
Either in a casual conversation or in the midst of conflict, something is said or is illuminated to you about your ability and effectiveness to lead. People are expressing their desire to be well lead. When this happens you may have several thoughts regarding other people’s expectations of you as a leader:
You may initially deny that you are a leader. This is a very common response since the majority of our lives we have been taught that leadership is for “other people.” But this is just not true. Not enough leaders have been born – so the rest of us must step in and learn to be leaders. This is your chance.
You may think that you don’t know how to lead. All of us have this little voice in the back of our mind that tells us “we are not good leaders.” Again, this is not true. Certainly we all make mistakes when we lead and it can be quite painful. But if you can take these episodes as leadership learning opportunities, you will gain tremendous skill as a leader. Much of what you need to learn is by doing – by being a leader.
You may think “I had no idea people saw me as a leader.” It may come as a bit of a surprise or a new realization that other people are looking to you as a leader. At this point not only do you need to focus on doing your job well, but you also need to provide leadership support to your group. This really means just understanding that people see you as a leader and continue to improve your leadership influence.
Take a breath and step into the role–but take this step only if you’re prepared to focus on the needs of others. Remember, if your leadership is only about your agenda and is not focused on the needs of others, you may find yourself standing alone with no one to follow you.
So, this is a time for you to take a moment or two and reflect on the impact you have or could have on the people in your sphere of influence.