Stepping into leadership can be intimidating, scary, and risky at times, but for all of us who have either sought a leadership position or have been promoted or elected into a leadership position, we must be ready. We must be ready to accept the responsibilities, the challenges and the glory that comes with that privilege. Leadership is not about titles, positions or money, it is about serving others. As you step into leadership positions, you must be able to own your leadership with courage, determination, commitment, purpose, hard work and perform to the highest standards, especially if your mission is to be an agent of change. When exercising leadership, you must always have the time to reflect on the effects of your actions and decisions towards the greater good.
When accepting a leadership position, either as a promotion with more power and more responsibilities or in an elected position, one must ask, “What will be my legacy? Who I am going to serve? What do I have the power to change or influence? What do you bring to the table?” Then go do it! Being in a leadership position is a privilege that must be taken seriously, and if you are not going to exercise your new role as change agent, you are not fully utilizing your power.
Own your leadership: What I mean by owning your leadership is that if you have the vision of what needs to happen, take charge, don’t be frozen by fear. You must act with confidence, determination, with leadership presence and energy. In my years of working with many individuals in leadership positions I have noticed that some leaders are afraid to initiate change or rock the boat. They are afraid of becoming the token individuals when making decisions. I usually ask, “What is your purpose as a leader? If you are not exercising your power to lead, why did you accept this position?” You must reflect on the reasons why you are in leadership. Either you have been promoted or hired into a leadership position because of your experience, talents and track record or elected by people who trust you and recognize your potential to create change. Do not allow yourself to be paralyzed by fear. Learn to take calculated risks. Own your leadership and exercise your power.
Find your voice – Speak up: How many times have you left a meeting where you said to yourself, “I should have said something, I had the solution to the problem and I did not say anything.” I always believed that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Don’t be silent in decision making moments and be ready to give a voice to those who do not have one. Be brief, be confident, be authentic. Amy Jen Su and Muriel Maignan Wilkins in their book, Own the Room, define leadership presence “as the ability to consistently and clearly articulate your value proposition while influencing and connecting with others”.
Don’t take things personal: In positions of influence we must learn to develop a thick skin, because in times of change and uncertainty not everyone is going to agree with you.
Learn from your mistakes: One of my “sheroes” Eleanor Roosevelt used to say, “Learn from your mistakes and learn from the mistakes of others, you can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” As we all grow into owning our leadership, we must be ready to accept gracefully if we have made a mistake and move on.
Remember that leadership is a privilege that provides many opportunities and carries a lot of power and responsibilities. When given that opportunity make sure you don’t play small. Own your leadership, playing small doesn’t save the world. Remember the words of Marianne Williamson in her poem “Our Deepest Fear”, where she said: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measures. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves: Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually who are you NOT to be?”. Own your leadership and let your light shine!
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