by Sara Marchessault
Have you noticed that leadership is a super trendy topic? The Donald Trumps and Bobby Bowdens of the world have written books on leadership. College credit is given for leadership classes. And you might even work in a place that provides leadership training or an opportunity to work with a leadership coach.
There is a lot out there about what types of behaviors can be classified as being a leader. Motivating others toward a common goal, a healthy amount of delegation, letting professionals do their jobs, and connecting with your team in light of both challenges and successes.
But what if your “team” is you? Can you still be a leader?
Remember the movie The Holiday? Kate Winslet’s character picks up a fabulous concept from an elderly gentleman she befriends. He tells her that she is not being the leading lady in her own life.
And if you really think about it, if you want to be the kind of leader with followers, you have to start with you.
You have to be the leader in your own life.
And if you’re going to be the leading lady in your life, you’re going to have to do some hard shit.
Making decisions. This is a biggie. Leaders make decisions and they move forward. They understand that if the decision needs to be modified or changed later, it can be, but that for the sake of momentum, shots need to be called and balls rolling.
Telling people “no, thank you, I can’t commit to that right now.” People who lead their own life have their priorities and are able to politely decline when the wrong opportunity comes along. Leaders protect their time and energy and use it where it is needed most.
Getting up early or staying up late. Not all the time necessarily, but sometimes a project or a goal will be one that is totally worth the extra hour of quiet productive time.
Chutzpah. The truth is that sometimes leaders need to be able to deliver tough messages. When you have chutzpah, you have the confidence to say or do things that others may not say or do. This does not mean embarrassing people around you or being condescending. It means politely and discretely telling they have food in their teeth or need to change focus.
Keeping a journal. Benefits of journal writing include clarity and decision-making. Leaders understand that their brains are better used to solve problems and rather than trying to remember all sorts of little details, they write them down for future reference.
This list is hard because these behaviors are not always easy. They require discipline and focus.
We get distracted easily. We get scared of making changes. We worry about hurting another person’s feelings. We have our own personal love-hate relationships with the clock.
When we give in to the distractions, our fear of change, or blame time for keeping us from moving ahead, we give up our lead role.
We wait to be told what to do and we react accordingly. And as for our ideas, they simmer, but never boil over.
Books stay inside of heads, where they can never be judged or critiqued. They can also never be shared and praised.
Businesses that don’t get started will never fail. Nor will they ever succeed.
Marathons that you never train for will never have to be something you tried and didn’t do. But you also don’t get to celebrate what you accomplish.
To be the leading lady requires that you step up. You make decisions and you act on them. You have the ability to manage yourself. You keep track of why you’re doing what you do. And you have the gumption to say what needs to be said, including being honest with yourself.
Be the person you would want to follow.
Be the leading lady in your life.
Like this article? Please feel free to use it on your own blog or newsletter. I simply ask that you please include this blurb: Sara Marchessault is a coach, writer, teacher, and mom who helps busy women use journaling to create more space in their life for being productive without feeling overwhelmed. To learn more about Sara and her work in the world, please visit joyfulbydesign.com or saramarchessault.com.