You have your eyes set on a leadership position and have been dedicated to building your knowledge base to make it there. Perhaps you’ve read all the “must-read” books, taken some courses, and even dedicated your morning run to listening to podcasts about the subject. But when it comes to taking that next leap and making your thoughts into reality, your confidence dips and you begin to feel confused and inadequate to lead. You feel uncomfortable and inauthentic.
If the above resonates with you, you are not alone. First, to clarify, there is nothing inherently wrong with these strategies. They are necessary to establish your baseline for effective leadership. But this situation is very common in up-and-coming leaders and first-generation professionals. It is called imposter syndrome and is very present in those who have not had mentors/parents on whom to base their experience.
Let me share with you three strategies that I like to recommend to my clients as they are looking at developing their leadership persona.
#1. Know your WHY.
First, you need to know why you want to be recognized as a leader. During my HR career, I have seen individuals strive for leadership positions, but once they reach their goal, they feel empty and unhappy. Why would this be the case? After close examination in each case, we determine each was chasing someone else’s dream but not their own. Thus, make sure you are clear about your true motivation behind the wish to be recognized as a leader. Moreover, ask yourself if a position of leadership is something that is truly a goal of yours, or is it just an idea coming from an ideal image of success that does not align with your internal values? This brings me to my next point.
#2. Discover your core values.
It is critical to connect with your own core values. Our values act as the main pillars from within which we choose to operate. I can’t stress this enough. Take the time to write down the core values you wish to stand by in both your personal and professional life. When you know these parameters and live in alignment with them, you will feel more comfortable expressing your own leadership style with confidence and authenticity.
#3. Take note of your strengths.
I like to recommend to my clients and any aspiring leaders that they really make it a priority to take inventory of their strengths. Your strengths are unique to you. They are your gift to the world, your superpowers. By starting from a place of strength, you are tapping into what is authentic to you. Therefore, you are leading from your truest self. If you are to embrace a leadership style, let it be from a place of belonging rather than from a place of inauthenticity.
In short, I like to end this article with one final ask: please stop listening to that inner critic that is holding you back. We are all leaders. We just need to discover our voice and get comfortable with our leadership style, which research has shown can be developed. If you like more proof of that, just take a look at our current crisis. In the midst of this pandemic, we have seen extraordinary acts of true leadership from the least expected places and individuals. So stop wondering “if you have what it takes” or if you are “good enough” because you are. It starts with you.