Finding the Leader Within

Lynn Fountain's Profile

Finding the Leader Within

How do you define leadership? Do you consider yourself a leader? Is it possible for anyone be a leader? If you were once a leader does that mean you are always a leader? Take a step away from the typical definition of leadership and consider how you can find the "leader within".

Identifying your individual abilities as a leader can be a difficult task. Many types of leaders exist, and leadership styles can be as varied as the manner in which the role was attained. The "leader within" is a reflection of your personal aspirations, passions and desires and the manner in which you utilize those attributes in meeting your goals. I once had a co-worker who continually encourage me to find the leader within.  She would say   “put on your red shoes my dear!” That was her way of correlating the need to walk the walk.  When I would object, she would inevitably say "“you’ve always had the power within yourself”.

Not everyone is meant to be a CEO or an executive. That should not prohibit the ability to be  a leader. When discussing leadership, we often focus on personal skills and traits. To find the “leader within” you must focus on your own personal desires and aspirations. Reflect on the following.

Passion

A leader possesses a passion. The leader within each of us will emerge when that passion is ignited, and we see a true purpose for our actions. Passion can be professional, personal or both. To allow the “leader within” to emerge, you must identify your passion and be able to effectively articulate its purpose.

Passion is an attribute that can be seen as well as felt. It excites energy from within and exudes that energy outward to others. Finding your passion is a key to identifying the type of leader you can become.

Goal

Leaders are able to identify their goal and inspire others to engage and follow that goal. Passion and goal work hand in hand. Individuals who can articulate their passion and identify a realizable goal will be the most successful leaders.

Confidence

Confidence allows the” leader within” to emerge. Individuals who have experienced an incident where their confidence has been shaken may lose the ability to effectively lead. Even the most courageous leaders can experience self-doubts and a loss of confidence. To identify the “leader within”, you must be able to evaluate your own personal confidence levels. In the end, your ability to lead others will be impacted by the level of self-confidence you can exhibit in your individual passion and goal.

Consider the scenario of a professional baseball athlete who is experiencing a hitting slump. Often, that slump will continue until the athlete can regain his own personal confidence in his abilities.

When describing lost confidence, I think of an example when  watching little league baseball. A young athlete fell into a  dreaded hitting slump. Each time he struck out at the plate, his confidence was shaken. In addition, the banter of his coaches impacted the young man’s ability to concentrate on his own technique. During one particular turn at bat the boy literally had a melt-down at the plate. His confidence had been so shaken that he could not effectively execute his true  technical skills. His ability to lead on the field had taken a tremendous hit and the recovery period was slow and painful.

Lost confidence in the professional sense may occur when individuals experience a set-back due to a job incident.   That set-back may be the result of a poor outcome on a project or it may be representative of negative feedback received from peers or subordinates. In either scenario, the individual’s personal ability to regain self-confidence can be a deciding factor in the type of personal or professional leadership roles they may choose to attempt in the future.

The ability to be an effective leader in any circumstance requires confidence in your actions and decisions. When that confidence is put into question, or when a loss of confidence is experienced, the individual must search deep within. To be able to continue in a leadership role, you must be able to reconcile successes and failures and determine how they impact your individual personality profile and leadership style.

Team First

Regardless of the leadership role, an effective leader must possess an attitude of team. You win as a team and you lose as a team. The leader must be able to instill the concept of team within the individuals they lead. The outcome of any effort must be seen as that of the team and not of any single individual.

Communication

There are two sides to communication. To be true to leader you must learn how to be both a strong verbal communicator as well as a strong listener. Examine your “leader within” traits. Sometimes it is difficult to sit back and listen, but ultimately, the true leader values the opinion of others and considers all factors when making a decision.

Will and Determination

To find the “leader within”, you must be able to define your passion and goal and you must have a will and determination to achieve that passion and goal.

These concepts are part of why only YOU can define what type of a leader you will be. Others may suggest, expect, dictate or desire you to act in a certain way, but to be true to the” leader within” you must be true to yourself and your own morals and values. That is what will make you a great leader in whatever arena you chose.

Learn much, much more in Lynn's course Finding the Leader Within on Illumeo.

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Former Chief Audit Executive for two global companies, expert in leadersihp, SOX, COSO, ERM and corporate governance frameworks. Nationally recognized trainer, speaker published author.