Leading with natural leadership.
When you lead with Natural Leadership you will discover a whole new world of influence.
This topic has been burning away in my subconscious for weeks now. And I won’t lie to you, it could even be months since I was asked…“What do you mean when you say, Natural leader” Liz?
This will sound strange to people who know me. But even more so to me, hearing myself admit to my procrastination aloud!
You see it is a real mission of mine and of my business. To bring you and my clients, just like you, out from the shadows. And into the full glorious sunshine which awaits you. To make the most of this ONE PERFECT opportunity…of life. When we think small, we play small and it’s in our power to change it!
Today I want to encourage you to discover your natural leadership abilities.
My obsession for exposing and developing those natural leadership skills and qualities is one of my main business values. Not to mention a big part of my why and for doing what I do. It’s the ‘U’ in Guru and where I talk about going ‘unabridged’, which means we leave nothing out.
So to find myself procrastinating over something so important is quite an oddity. You’d think it would be something that I couldn’t stop myself from writing! Maybe it’s because I know my views fly in the face of traditional hardened leadership coaches and trainers. Traditionally relying on, expensive, lengthy questionnaires and mapping systems to give you written evidence of your identity, putting the intangible into a legible format for you to consume. And offer the most convenient box to put your habitual behaviour responses in.
However, it is more likely to be my wanton need; to do the subject justice and in the most succinct way. To make it powerful, impactful enough that I inspire all of you silent or shy natural leaders out there to be more. Now there’s a conundrum…am I suggesting you ‘should be more’? No; I am suggesting, all of you who find yourselves frustrated with your results are actually suppressing much of your natural leadership qualities. For those of you thinking you could do better and do more, do in fact have more to give if you would just get out of your own way?
Doing it your way.
For many, the idea of natural leadership may sound air fairy or a bit wishy-washy because it is the holy grail of the ‘differential’. It is the ‘thing’ that nobody else can replicate…it’s uniquely you. And unlikely to be graded by any convenient scoring system. In some areas, the very concept is recognised and found filed under the category of ‘soft skills’. However, these are anything but soft. It demands critical thinking; it requires personal strength of character and courage not just to find answers but to leave questions open-ended. It is having the willingness to change long-held attitudes. The results and rewards though are incredible and liberating, for those who seek their truth and lead at the identity level.
What is Natural Leadership?
Natural leadership is not about a title or a position. You can’t apply for a natural leadership post. Nor is it about a colour personality grouping of red, green, yellow, or blue (in other cultures we may be venturing into gang mentality!) or a ‘type’ or ‘preferred approach’. I am not trying to read minds, however, the idea when you came into business is was not follow someone else’s rules. If anything, you were probably told you all need a USP or a differential. I am pretty sure when I started to recognise myself as a leader and certainly when I became a business owner it was not to clone myself and follow anyone else’s prescriptive approach? I did it to leave a legacy, to make a difference to carve my own path. So, do we all want to be a RED?
Now listen I am not dismissing incredibly clever many of these questionnaires and reports are, but they are only a starting point. Unfortunately, so many employers and others rely on them as if they are an immovable and done deal. You are so much more than that.
How willing are you to be the natural leader?
Natural leadership is all about your willingness to put yourself forward, to be vulnerable and imperfect. It’s knowing and living your identity. I dislike the term authentic because it is so overused but it is what gives you the greatest sense of confidence and grounding. It can only come from gaining a true understanding of who you are and what you stand for. In other words, your true essence of what you bring to any situation, event, conversation, business, or organisation. Who we are is how we lead, it is your frame of reference and for those who don’t know who they are, this suggestion is scary?
It means responding to every situation, whether this is crisis or conflict, based purely on the situation at hand. It is being so self-aware that you can manage your emotional responses like a pro. Not allowing judgments or unexpected responses to obstruct your clarity of what is needed in the moment. It is the skill of maintaining the forethought necessary and consider the overall ecology of any actions. It allows you to make those uncomfortable decisions and still remain fully present whilst the actions are implemented.
Expectations of natural leadership.
I make no bones about this; it is not a passive journey.
Natural leaders do not sit in their ivory towers and lead from afar. They hear and feel the rumbles from the shop floor and the environment they operate.
I remember making a comment in a meeting in my previous career which went like this ‘the further you climb in your career the less value you bring to the customer’. I believe my remarks were derived from my studies of the LEAN process and the project I was leading. Needless to say, my words were echoed back to me on more than one occasion in the preceding months! One thinks I may have hit a nerve? Apologies… not on your Nelly. I meant it and I still do.
Natural leadership embraces the whole workforce and beyond because you truly connect and invest yourself. Natural leadership is a great leveler because it allows the Leaders to connect not only with their business but, their purpose, their client, customer, and employees.
Why don’t we embrace natural leadership?
Brene Brown in Dare to Lead “ It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out the strong man stumbles, or the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again … who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly”
Surely this is a great testament as to why we should embrace and invest in natural leadership? It offers us so much freedom to be curious, to be creative, to get things wrong, to enjoy leading because it’s done with integrity and compassion. However, on the flip side natural leadership requires the exploration of those harder to reach values and beliefs. For so many, this is probably more exposing and more challenging than they are prepared to go. It does mean peeling back the layers of the onion and challenging each layer as on its authenticity and its value and thus its need to even exist. These layers were nurtured many before you were conscious of them and therefore more than ready to be let go.
“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another” John C Maxwell
In my experience of leadership training in the past; the training barely scratched the surface when it came to the topic of becoming you. Focusing in the main on external skills, such as team dynamics, change management, with some influence and negotiation, basic communication. Of course, there was the all-important certification at the end. The reason being, the training can be mass-produced, systemised. The results were measured and quantified. But are you any closer to being the leader you want to be?
None of this is natural leadership. You don’t draw out the true leader from these frameworks, tools, and by identifying responsibilities that fall under the roles of a Leader.
What wakes you up at 3 am
When push comes to shove, when you are in a tight spot, facing a crisis or a difficult decision. You need to dig deep into your reserves as a leader, what will you find? Do you know what you have to draw on? This is often what wakes you up at 3 am in the morning. Wondering if you have what it takes to ‘see this through’. Our natural response is to revert to type. Like an elastic band, when the elastic band is overstretched or stretched ‘out of shape or out of its natural form’ the resistance falters and the elastic band breaks returning to its natural order.
It is at times like this your true character comes into its own. This is when all the work you have done on your beliefs, your values, and your decision-making processes are more powerful and resilient. It’s what will help you not to retreat just when you need to be making progress, that’s when you need to be pushing through the glass ceilings.
If you choose to show up from the natural leader perspective, you choose to face failures, you choose to face fear, disappointment, rejection, and isolation at times. And it is this that stops so many amazing people from enjoying their business and becoming natural leaders because it is exposing. Rather they hide behind procedures, guidelines, policies, and rules.
Everyone, in my belief, has natural leadership qualities to be proud of. The work you enter will help you expand your self-awareness. Will help identify the leadership environment which will naturally suit you best. You will start to run your business differently; you will lead and attract your teams differently and the service you offer your customers will be attractive to the customers you want. No more shoehorning yourself into a space that puts you out of shape.
Becoming a natural leader
To release the fire and brilliance of a diamond requires exposure to certain processes at the hands of a craftsperson.
What these processes are and who the craftsperson will be is the choice best discovered by the ‘rough diamond’ themselves (you). Remember, all the best outcomes evolve when they come from a quality and trusted relationship.
I want to leave you with a thought to inspire you to undertake your own exploration into self-discovery by asking you a question, if I may?
Have you ever picked a stone from the seashore? Chosen for its wonderful colour, shine, and patterning. Only to find that when you pull it from your pocket later, discover a dull flat, and uninteresting stone like every other on the beach?
This is the difference for me between the natural leader aka the pebble dancing in the shoreline showing its natural depth of colour and its true characteristics and that of the many other people in leadership roles aka pebbles lying on the beach.
Be prepared to expose yourself to bring out your brand of natural leadership? Don’t lie with the masses?
You have one life full of vision, purpose, and promise, you won’t experience it how you want to if you are not you.
3 top suggestions to start you on the right road to natural leadership
- Read – start looking a Brene Brown ‘Dare to Lead’ I found her writing a couple years ago and she has some incredible advice.
- YouTube – you cannot go wrong with Simon Sinek, Seth Godin, and again Brene Brown. Old but still so valuable try looking up John C Maxwell.
- Make the decision – Do you really want to make the most of your natural leadership qualities? If so take action.