The most amazing stories I hear in my journeys as a leadership consultant, are those of people who never thought they would ever be a leader, and now they are. From a Chemical Plant Supervisor who, after participating in an assessment centre we had run, gets promoted overnight to a Head of Site. To the leader who has been thrown into an unexpected role during a crisis. Most of these people will have struggled, as I have, with imposter syndrome. They worry that they either don’t have what it takes to lead others or that they will fail to deliver.
What gets in the way of us seeing ourselves as leaders? I have spent most of my career feeling that I needed a business partner to help me lead my company. That imposter syndrome gives you the constant negative voice in your head. A voice of doubt around our capability to lead. But, when we look back in history, the world has been changed by unlikely heroes.
In uncertain times it is incredible who steps forward to lead others. No matter whether they want the role. I feel most inspired when I read about those unlikely leaders who have set out to make a difference to those who are disadvantaged. Those who run boxing gyms or clubs for young people in deprived areas. Recovering drug addicts who now bring their wisdom to lead others out of their dark place.
Unlikely leaders can also be those who selflessly start a campaign or movement that changes the way we think. For example, the #MeToo campaign was started by Tarana Burke telling her story. It was then sent viral by Alyssa Milano attaching the #MeToo. Now the change is happening, and the campaign has led to greater awareness, but they had not set out to be the powerful leaders they are now.
If you are reading this as a person who is a leader and has huge confidence in their ability, you are very lucky. For the rest of us that feel the title of ‘unlikely leader’ fits, we need to find a way to get a grip on our role.
By developing helpful habits, leaders block out the negative voice and learn to thrive. Some leaders thrive by being thrown in the deep end – however, others may need a framework and purpose. Either way, good habits can lead to a better mind set which can help leaders find their strengths. No matter how we come to the title of leader, better systems, habits and behaviours can allow us to excel and make a difference.