When I explain what I do for a living to strangers, I often receive this answer:
“Good for you. Leading people is not for me.”
I get it’s not for everyone, but then comes the second part:
“And even if it was, I would be bad at it.”
Yes, I understand it’s hard to be confident when dealing with the human element. But I also know that leading people is not as bad as it seems.
Years ago, I was telling a similar story. What has happened since? I learned. And you can, too.
Here’s why leading people is not as bad as you think.
You overcome your fears
The one thing that goes with taking the lead is exposed (criticism, for instance).
Taking the lead can expose our deepest fears. Fear of failure, rejection and judgement are just some of the worries new leaders face (here’s the full list if you fancy it).
But think about it for a second.
You’ve been asked to step into a leadership role because someone (often your boss) has seen signs proving you are ready to lead. Ready to spot fear in others and help them move past the exact same limitations.
Don’t let them hold you back. Leading people is not so bad, once you let go of perfection.
“People won’t like me”
People are unlikely to dislike you as a person. They are, however, likely to disagree with your actions and criticise the result.
But when you create a team ecosystem where you are transparent about what you do, why you do it, and what it really means, leading people is not as bad as you think.
What happens is people will ask questions. And that’s where you can make a difference. Listen to their concerns and address them with genuine care. And they will understand why you make impactful decisions.
Taking the lead = taking action. Grab my FREE e-book and discover 3 practical steps to build trust in yourself and inspiration in others.
You do make an impact
One of my early mentors stressed this point to me more than 15 years ago.
You do make an impact. Good or bad, it’s up to you.
Leading people is not that bad because you have the opportunity to inspire other people. Their growth is your job! Isn’t it great to have the ability to give others the extra boost they need to reach their potential?
What you do, the advice you give, the way you explain something can make a big shift in others. Keep a positive attitude, share what you know, and you’ll be fine.
You make things possible
Leading people comes with a blessing in disguise: you can create a path in the dark. What was impossible becomes real for the people working with you.
Think about #metoo. Tarana Burke, an African-American civil rights activist from New York, started the movement to denounce sexual harassment. It just took a nudge by actress Alyssa Milano to turn Tarana’s idea into one of the most impactful (and pacific) movements we’ve known in decades.
A word of encouragement, an introduction to someone else, or a few weeks of mentoring can be enough to give anyone access to their potential. Leading people is not so bad when you give support to someone’s idea in the workplace, right?
You meet plenty of people (and learn from them)
Humans are social (did you know that without our social ties our species would not have survived?).
Agree or not, we do need social interactions. It’s in our DNA: we’re wired to learn by connecting information we receive here and there. So the more people you meet, the more info you process and the more you grow.
Most people think they don’t have what it takes to be a leader because they’re “not a social animal”. Or they can’t get over the fear of judgment/rejection.
Are you one of them? Then you’re missing out on the learning that comes with interacting with different people. Ask anyone, and they’ll tell you that they didn’t learn from the job. They learned from the people.
You test your comfort zone
People will ask questions about pretty much everything (expecting an answer). Your confidence will be tested. Your ideas, too.
But leading people in these conditions is not as bad as you think. When you have a growth mindset (or are working at it), it’s exactly what you need to grow!
Being a captain of the ship is the most challenging adventure. But hey, growth is waiting for you right at the edge of your comfort zone!
By searching for better ways to communicate, better ways to stand united together or just a better way to empower others, a leader is constantly expanding their leadership boundaries.
You help others achieve more
Rihanna said that when she met and sung for Jay-Z for the first time, he wouldn’t let her leave the room until she’d signed on the dotted line. Because he immediately saw her immense potential as a singer.
Over time, you’ll learn to spot what others are capable of, way before they entertain the idea. And so, you know what’s possible for them and what they’re not ready for (although they might disagree!).
In my opinion, to see what others can’t see for themselves and to give them the confidence to act is the essence of the job. Believe me, when you see your protégés unlock their next step, you’ll know it was all worth it!
Is leading people still as bad as you think?
A leader expands in 360 directions. Situations, conversations, ideas, resolving problems or guiding people towards their best work are infinite possibilities for you to cultivate self-mastery, embrace self-exploration and become a more evolved individual.
When you take on a leadership role, you learn twice as much as you teach.
You learn about yourself. About people. About what makes life worth living.
(Oh… and you get the piggy bank for team celebrations. Told you it was all worth it!)
How do you go about leading others? Share your story below!