as i was growing up, i was always told “you are a natural leader” by teachers, friends, and family so i guess it’s just become part of my identity.

i am a leader.

but lately i’ve been asking myself:

am i a good leader?

and what is leadership anyways?

when i teach about leadership in the context of igniting your purpose, sharing your mission, and serving others with your gifts i often tell people that leadership can simply mean that you are one step ahead on your journey… and you have the vision, the purpose, and the drive to take people along with you.

but recently i’ve wondered at my own ability to do that!

i’m involved in various groups and initiatives outside of my business and have lately been finding leadership in this context to very challenging.

managing a variety of stakeholders and differing opinions, dealing with negativity and conflict, realizing that some people have a different agenda or don’t hold the vision that you’ve brought to the table or simply don’t even care that much.

to be honest, it’s made me doubt my ability to be a leader.

maybe the only reason i was ever identified as a leader is because i am a natural action taker… i like to jump in and make sure shit gets done. and i am comfortable speaking up, being seen, raising my voice. the warrior & rock star energies are strong in my lighthouse! but there is more to leading than those qualities.

maybe the reason i have my own solo business is because i can’t actually lead any thing or any one but myself! my biz gives me a space to be autonomous, to do what i want to do without answering to anyone… and it’s easy in this context to focus on those with the same vision and passion as you and ignore the rest.

maybe i need to rethink what leadership means and what it means to be an effective leader.

i believe that the lighthouse offers a framework for self-leadership – a framework to find your purpose, speak your truth, build yourself up, take action, overcome resistance, and face darkness.

how does that translate to leadership of a group? are those the same things we must guide others towards if we are leading?

the things i value most highly are individuality, authenticity, and empowerment… that drive to light up, rise up, speak up… stand tall… shine bright.

shouldn’t i be better at helping others to do that?

in group situations i get so frustrated when people don’t take action. don’t speak up. don’t value other’s voices. bring negativity, blame, excuses, to the table. are inauthentic.

and those are clues. BIG clues.

because the very things that frustrate you from others are a sign of what you are good at yourself. when you look around the room and think “omg, why don’t they just xyz” – xyz is probably your zone of genius.

and just because these things come naturally to you, doesn’t mean they do for others.

remembering that, what can we do about it?

well, we lead.

we teach. we share. we explore. we allow. we foster. we ignite.

i think this is one of the things i need to do better as a leader – in fact all of us could do better at it, no matter where or how or who we are leading… in biz or in work or in our communities or even in our families…

focus not on our own strengths, but on the strengths of the people we lead.

recognizing what they are good at, tapping into their strengths/talents/interests/zones of genius in a bigger way…  allowing them to shine, their way.

and actually holding the space for that.

holding the space for differences, holding the space for others to rise up, holding the space for exploration and stuckness and failure… everything that happens on this journey.

maybe being a leader doesn’t mean jumping in and getting shit done… having all the answers, making all the plans, doing all of the talking and figuring and implementing…

rather, it means backing off and letting others rise.

and indeed, perhaps even fall.

i’ve been feeling like a failure as a leader, and that’s a hard pill to swallow. it’s hard to discover that who you thought you were may not be who you are at all. and it’s doubly hard to have a life purpose of empowering others to shine their light, only to find out you kind of suck at that in certain situations.

but if leadership means holding the space for others to shine, to rise up from the place of their own strengths, then perhaps i ought to hold that space for myself as well… permission to fail and to get back up again and do better.

so i shall keep working on it.

i shall show up and try again… try to be the lighthouse i say i want to be.

do you lead a community? a tribe? a committee? a group? a classroom? a circle? a forum? a team?

what does leadership mean to you?

and what do you find to be the most challenging part of it?

i would love to know.

karen gunton6 Comments