We all have the potential to be a leader at work, home, and even on the playground.
Shaun Nelson, executive director of the Nashua Police Athletic League (PAL), has seen the magic of emerging young leaders in action. Nashua engages in a participatory budget process in which community members directly influence how to spend part of public monies to improve their neighborhood. In 2019, one teenager led the charge to try to win the funds to build a futsal court. Futsal is a game similar to soccer, but played indoors on a hard court.
The teenager motivated and mobilized her family, friends, and the community to get the word out and vote. Because of her leadership, they won the $20,000 that made their futsal court a reality.
That’s powerful stuff. Now, did that thirteen-year-old kid wake up and say, “I think I’ll be a leader today”? Probably not. What she did was seize an opportunity to make something happen and you can, too.
You are surrounded by opportunities to lead every day and perhaps you are already leading without realizing it. Do people ask your advice, turn to you for direction, follow your example? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, you are leading.
So, how do you become the best leader you can be? The biggest hurdle for many emerging leaders is overcoming fear, doubt, and uncertainty about their ability to lead. It’s easy to think, “I’m not the boss. I don’t have a title. Why would anyone listen to me?” or “What if I share my idea and everyone thinks it’s stupid?” or “What if I lead them down the wrong path?”
Leadership is a lot of responsibility, and you will at times fail. But when you push past your fear, uncertainty, and doubt and embrace your leadership potential, amazing things will happen—I promise.
Start Owning What You Want
Here are a few tips for getting started on that leadership journey:
- Define what you want. What is it that you want to achieve? Are you looking to motivate your fellow team members to work together to beat your department’s quarterly sales goals? Do you want to pitch your great idea to streamline customer service to your boss? Maybe your goal is to be promoted to a leadership position. The key is you have to want whatever it is you are trying to achieve.
- Believe you deserve to achieve it. This is a stumbling block for many of us. We sometimes question whether we deserve an opportunity or a success. I’ve seen many people be surprised when they are offered a promotion. “Why me?” they ask. “There are other people who deserve this promotion more than me.” People recognize your hard work and you are being promoted, believe in yourself that you DO deserve it. If you work hard for what you want, you absolutely deserve to reap the rewards of your efforts.
- Figure out the steps you need to take to achieve what you want. You know what you want to achieve, and you believe you deserve to achieve it. Now, it’s time to figure out how to achieve it. Map out the steps you must take to reach your goal and give yourself a timeline to reach each of those steps. If you’re currently a salesperson and you want to be the director of sales, what are the leadership positions between you and the directorship? If it’s team lead and sales manager, it’s time to commit to the long-game and figure out what steps you need to take to first achieve team lead.
- Take action. It’s one thing to make a plan of how to reach your goal, it’s another to act on it. It’s scary to put yourself out there, to feel uncertain, to risk failure. Our fears make it easy to talk ourselves out of taking action. Your fears are real. You can let them hold you back or you can choose to lead fearlessly by confronting your fears, acknowledging the risks, and then staring them down as you take that first step. It’s action—not inaction—that will help you overcome your fears.
Do you want to be a Fearless Leader? Do you believe you deserve to be a Fearless Leader?
Then let’s get you started with my Fearless Leader Assessment.