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Everyone has the capacity to be a leader, and the authority for this power is inside everyone.
Once you buy into the premise that each of us can be a leader, the next step is to give yourself permission to tap into that power — which isn’t always so easy to do. First, you need to overcome the self-limiting belief that you do not have the authority. Put another way, you do not have to wait for the boss to give you direction or grant you permission. Instead, believe you are the boss of you and only you can control when you access your power to lead.
A leader inspires others by serving as a role model, sometimes going first and other times listening from behind. A leader innovates either through fresh ideas or by courageously starting the process of opening up by showing vulnerability. A leader does not have to manage a team, or run a company, or be the boss. A leader emerges from the group because of their influence on others in the way they shape the team by expressing the power of their truth and insight.
Anyone can be the first one to offer an idea or raise a contrary view. Anyone can question the boss. Anyone can be the person who reads the energy in the room and brings clarity to the team that is going down the wrong track. Anyone can volunteer to show how they can be comfortable being uncomfortable and act as a role model for others.
When you take the risk to show up with all that you have, you are breaking the ice for others to do the same. You’re giving everyone else permission to bring everything that they have to the situation. Your stepping in becomes the catalyst to bring the entire group to a new level.
Why is that?
The first person to find the courage to step in with all that they have takes a risk. When you’re willing to get out of your comfort zone and dive in with your truth, then everyone else is pushed out of their comfort zones, too. They have to respond more openly and transparently.
This is what we call “chaos.” Chaos is simply when we leave a comfortable place for an uncomfortable place. There may be tension in the room. A hard truth may be spoken. It may be that the elephant in the room has now been named. These situations are uncomfortable.
Chaos is critically important to every person and group. It’s a crucial ingredient in building trust. Think about it: If you never go through the fire together, then you never learn that the team can face tremendous challenges and come out stronger because of it.
On the other side of the chaos is a more deeply connected, trusting, and authentic community of leaders — a community that formed because you took the risk to show up differently. That leads us to an important leadership tenet: Vulnerability is the gateway to unleashing all of your power.
The idea may be seem counterintuitive, but the fact is that vulnerability is leadership within a team. When you are in place where it feels safe to be vulnerable, and you show up with your truth, you are bringing your power to the team. That gives others on the team permission to do the same thing.
This is different from the old-school belief that leaders have all the answers, are bulletproof, and have no feelings. According to this belief, leaders are robots in perfect control all the time.
Although there may be times when it is important to lead by inspiring and motivating others, when you are with your team, you can just be you. Sometimes you will be in a place of confidence, and other times you will be anxious, scared, frustrated, overwhelmed, confused, or sad. That is what the team is there for: to help pick you up when you need it, and for you to pick up others when they are challenged.
Leadership within a team environment means being vulnerable and asking for help and support. It means sharing with and challenging others in open, healthy debate. When you are willing to take the risk and make yourself vulnerable, the team will draw upon your example. Then, the entire team, through its vulnerability, will unleash the power that comes from authenticity.