How Leadership Changes Your Identity

Recently, the Harvard Business Journal published an article with one central and provocative question:

Are you afraid to identify as a leader?

WOW. I held my breath while reading the post and then once I got to the final word, I let that breath out in a loud “whoooooooosh” sound.

By now, you probably know your Predictable Success Leadership Styles mix (and if not, you can find out for FREE by taking this assessment).

Because you’re here reading this post, I can surmise a few things:

  • You are interested in developing yourself both professionally and personally
  • You are at least somewhat inclined toward leadership, even if you are not yet the MSE (most senior executive) in your business or organization
  • You are intellectually curious and open to new ideas, resources and prompts as journey into leadership

But what I can’t tell through the screen is how you feel about the concept of leadership itself, nor your fears or any limiting beliefs you may have about your opportunities to lead well.

So, let’s dive into it a bit. The HBR article presents the argument that some — and maybe many — are uncomfortable identifying as leaders because they don’t want to appear domineering, different or unqualified. Additional research, outside of the HBR article, also shows that when it comes to perceptions of what it means to be a leader are divided when looking at genders. AKA, it’s more common for women to have these fears and concerns than men.

If you follow Les McKeown’s teachings (which of course you do, because you’re here!), you know that effective leadership is typically understated:

So, what is leadership?

  • Leadership shows up in groups or teams

  • Those groups or teams can be very small

  • Leadership can happen in an instant

  • Leadership isn’t a permanent state

  • Leadership happens both formally and informally

(p19, DO/LEAD by Les McKeown)

Which of those statements most resonates with you as you look at your own leadership goals and opportunities? What inspires and excites you? What challenges you or pushes you out of your comfort zone?

It takes commitment (and courage!) and good faith, and that’s why you’re all here — doing the work and looking at the role you can play in your own future.

All of us ‘show up’ as leaders exhibiting a combination of four key leadership styles: VisionaryProcessorOperator or Synergist. Most of us are a mix of two or more of these styles, but we all tend to ‘lead’ with one style more than the other.

One helpful exercise when redefining what leadership — good, strong and fulfilling leadership — means is to ask for feedback. Les shares more details in this post, and reminds us that we as leaders tend to acknowledge our own strengths, but we often fail to recognize our weaknesses.

Fortunately, our colleagues are quick to see them – even if lack of authority, internal culture, courtesy or just plain fear keeps them from sharing with us.

If you are concerned about what others will think of you or what you will think of yourself as you grow and learn and yes, lead, remember that simply having the self-awareness to know your boundaries and to set some goals for yourself should keep you on the right path.

Imposter syndrome is mean and can be a bully. Don’t let it keep you from making a positive impact where you are, right now.

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