If leadership is in everyone, how do they access this leadership?

In last week’s blog, I asked you to reflect about whether you think it is true that leadership is in everyone and I invited you to share your thoughts with me. Today, I go a little further on this topic.

If you have been reading The Genuine Contact Way: Nourishing a Culture of Leadership, you know that I firmly and deeply believe that leadership is present in everyone. The book examines how to access personal and professional leadership. I am also pretty clear that personal and professional leadership cannot be separated.

So, if leadership is in everyone, how do people access their leadership?

In my career as a leadership development consultant, I have witnessed people endeavoring to embrace new beliefs, habits, patterns and behaviors regarding leadership. Maybe they have read a book, taken a course, viewed some tips for leadership best practices on YouTube and they feel set to go and are determined to succeed. And then frustration sets in. Old beliefs, patterns, habits and behaviors resurface, despite what were good intentions.

A metaphor that I use when working with people to avoid this frustration is the metaphor of having a full cup of tea, and then asking someone to pour in another cup of tea. Clearly, the cup will overflow as their is no space in the cup for the additional tea.

Leadership development undertakings are like the full cup of tea. Before working with new beliefs, patterns, habits and behaviors, it is important to give time and effort to doing some unlearning. When people take this time, they discover that there is more unlearning to do than they had imagined. The room, space, and freedom to start working with your development needs to be created.

Creating Space for Accessing Your Leadership Capacity

I share here some initial steps for people to access their personal leadership capacity that I have found useful.

  1. Going through a process of discernment of what you truly believe about leadership. This includes answering the question I posed for you last week about deciding whether you believe everyone has leadership capacity.
  2. Choosing to break, discard and let go of old beliefs, habits, patterns and behaviors about leadership. This step is not about actually doing the letting go but about making a conscious choice that you are going to do so.
  3. Figure out some ways that you can take yourself through a letting go process. Be creative with this!
  4. Clear out the old beliefs, habits, patterns and behaviors.

I think this time of year (autumn in the northern hemisphere, spring in the southern hemisphere) is a perfect time for clearing out what is no longer useful to being your full self. Of course, in my perspective, being your full self includes working from your leadership capacity.