You might be cringing at that statement or screaming out loud that you aren’t a leader and have no interest in being a leader. You can try to sit back in life and just follow, follow, follow for all your years. But, if you want to be effective in anything you do, at some point you’ll need to pull on your big girl pants and take the lead. Maybe that is as simple as making a decision for the direction you’re heading or maybe that is more complex such as wanting to be a good mother or even running a business, but in between all those places there are leadership opportunities at every turn you make, and it’s up to you to decide if you’re going to cowgirl up and be one, or just hide behind others and be at the mercy of their leadership.
I truly believe that to be an effective human being you must develop your leadership skills. Whether they are being applied to simply leading yourself or leading a whole team, they are the same skills.
In my previous life I worked at a luxury guest ranch. While the business was much more complex than just horses, teaching people about horses was an integral part of the experience, so we spent a lot of time with our team figuring out the best way to teach people about horsemanship. You see, most people with little horse experience believe working with and riding horses is kind of like hopping on an ATV. You hit the gas to go, pull the brakes to stop, and turn the steering wheel to turn. That’s it right? We got to be the bearer of bad news to those folks. Working with and riding a horse is actually a dance that requires the rider to be the leader, or else things go sideways. Horses are looking to their human partner for leadership. The way a herd dynamic works is the lead mare is the leader, and the lower rung horses all look to her for leadership. And guess what? Just like humans, horses don’t respect a bad leader. Sure, like humans we can bully and scare those under you to perform, but they will be doing it out of fear instead of being willing. So, you want your horse to listen to you, do what you ask, and respect your rules? Guess it’s time to work on those leadership skills.
Being as this was a luxury guest ranch, we saw a lot of very powerful and successful people come through who had great achievements in their lives at home. But they struggled to wrap their heads around the concept of being a good leader with a horse. And the guests who did the best showing up as a leader for their horse were not always those who were having the most business success in the world. They were the people who would seek to understand, communicated clearly once they understood the conversation, and were firm yet kind with their direction. So, you see, just to go for a horseback ride, you might as well work on being a better leader!
Maybe you say you don’t care about riding a horse. Well, how about being a mom who has tremendous respect from her children? Good leader. How about being a volunteer who the other volunteers want to support? Good leader. How about being a friend whom others look to for advice and guidance? Good leader. How about being a part of a team at work whose ideas are listened to and someone who those above and below you really value. Good leader. How about having a dog who is under control and has great manners? Sure, sometimes people get lucky with special dogs, but overall…. Good leader.
The point of all this is don’t skip over the leadership stuff as you grow. Even if you don’t see yourself as a leader, I hope you will recognize that you are in some capacity, even if being a CEO is not your goal in life!