If you deem yourself an effective leader, it’s surely time for you to step up. If you consider yourself to be a great communicator, you must rise up in this moment. If you believe yourself to be a sound decision maker, who will ever know it if you don’t lean in and guide sound decisions now. If you perceive yourself to be empathetic, show empathy now. If you believe you have what it takes to lead, lead now. Because here’s the truth. If you fail to rise up in this moment—when leadership and emotional intelligence are in such great demand—will it ever really matter again? Is there a better time than now to own your power to lead? Leadership is not about titles. It is not about seniority. It is not about status, and it is not about management. Leadership is about power and the ability to know when and how to use it to influence the people around you to do and become more!
So again—if you consider yourself a leader, but you don’t lead now, then when? If you think you are a good listener, but you won’t listen now, then when? If you claim that you have the courage to lean in to your fears and embrace change, but you resist doing so now, then when?
Successful leaders own their power to lead themselves and others. As you ponder the idea of leading someone—anyone—somewhere to do something, it’s important that you move away from the theory of leadership, and bring it to the here and now. Indeed, you have the potential and power to lead, to influence, to be an example. Everyone does, but not everyone can pass the most important leadership test in the world and not everyone will. So the question isn’t whether or not you have the potential to lead? The question is do you own your power to do so?
Leaders show up. Leaders lean in. Leaders listen. They create, engage, lift up and clarify. Leaders break down barriers and lift up voices. They tone down the noise and ask the kind of questions that will help them know how to answer fear with hope and despair with inspiration. Are you ready? Are you demonstrating great leadership? Do you own your power to lead? To help you contemplate your answer to this very important leadership question, I pose the following additional questions. Be brutally honest with yourself as you consider your answers. Without a doubt, those you seek to lead will take notice if you fail in any of these areas.
Do others feel exhausted or uplifted after interacting with me?
Does my communication style contribute to clarity or confusion? Am I able to effectively persuade others to my ideas?
Is my message consistent? If not, is there a justifiable reason for any inconsistency? What is it, and have I accounted for this?
Is empathy a leadership quality I care about? Do I understand what my organisation, team and colleagues are struggling with most? How do I know this? How do I show I understand?
Whom am I listening to most? With which employees or team members do I spend most of my time? Why?
Who are the people I spend less time with? Is this justifiable? Or might these other people feel neglected or overlooked? Do I care?
Do I apply an effective decision-making process? Do I make rational and objective decisions that can be substantiated with logic, data and reasoning?
Are my decisions ethical? Are there unintended consequences that I might be overlooking? What about blind spots?
On whose behalf am I operating? Who will benefit most? Who will lose? Do I care? How do I show it?
What messages am I sending to those within my circle of influence? Am I sending a message of leadership? Am I sending a message of hope and inspiration? Do I display executive presence? How do I know?
Am I setting a path or direction for addressing immediate and long-term needs? In what way?
Are the people I am charged to lead more or less hopeful after interacting with me? Do they understand their options and choices? Are they informed on possible action steps, and are they inspired to take any action?
How do I plan to move people to action? Do I rely on my ability to influence and persuade others, or am I relying too much on my title, position or status?
Do I need to manage the crisis, lead the crisis or both? What is the difference between management and leadership, and where is my best help coming from? How do I recognise this?
Do I demonstrate transformational leadership? Do I apply leadership techniques that inspire deeper thinking in others? Do I encourage engagement and help to drive meaningful results for the organization and the people within it.
Leadership isn’t something you declare; it’s something you demonstrate. If you fail to strike the right balance between calm and urgency, you’ll fail. If your presence doesn’t instill purpose among those within your circle of influence, you’ll fail. As a leader, you have a strategic imperative to create an environment where the people around you can do their best work. It is critical that you create a sense of calm in the midst of turmoil. It is critical that you inspire more communication—not less. And it is critical that your team members, colleagues and organisational executives perceive you as delivering a clear and concise message rather than a convoluted one.
During times of crisis, successful leaders set the stage for organizational and operational success, and they own their power to make a positive difference. They own their power to effect change. They own their power to lead. Are you ready?
Nothing creates an opportunity for leadership to shine like uncertainty. Nothing creates a platform for leadership like ambiguity. And nothing calls out for great leadership like a crisis. Forget all the hype about titles, seniority, status money, etc., and remember that leadership isn’t something you declare; it’s something you demonstrate. Are you ready? Are you ready to own your power to lead?