In a review of a popular leadership book, Amazon.com states, “Few of us are natural-born leaders, according to [the author of the book]. Fortunately though, ‘the traits that are the raw material of leadership can be acquired,’ [the author] promises. ‘Link them up with desire and nothing can keep you from becoming a leader. This book will supply the leadership principles. You must supply the desire.’”
It is the pursuit of these leadership “traits” that compels some of us to buy the latest books on leadership, hoping to bridge the gap between how we see ourselves and how we see ourselves as leaders.
An executive coach specializing in “top executives” has observed that “extroverts are natural leaders… if you go by popular culture—television, movies, and books written by hero CEOs.” It is the popularized version of leadership that keeps some of us introverts on the leadership sidelines. We could never be a good leader, we tell ourselves, because we are just not charismatic enough.
In my humble opinion, each of us has the capability of being a good leader influencing people to good outcomes. We need not acquire a particular set of traits, and we don’t have to be an extrovert.
Being a good leader influencing people to good outcomes starts with our identity; it starts with knowing who we are and remaining true to who we are—i.e., not trying to be someone we are not for the sake of exercising good leadership.
I have heard people declare with a sense of entitlement, “They must not know who I am!”
When it comes to leadership, it will be important to you and for the people you hope to influence that they know who you are. The critical question then is “Do you know who you are?” Because if you aren’t certain, others will be more than happy to fill in the blanks… and not always in ways with which we agree or like.
Up next: an exercise in finding or understanding our identity within the context of leadership.