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Even if you didn’t grow up with a garden in your backyard, you probably planted a seed in some soil for science class at some point. If you took good care of that seed, after a few days you would see it emerge from the ground and become a flowering plant.
Leadership isn’t all that different. Like a seed, your leadership instinct is inside you, waiting for some nurturing and care. You just have to choose whether to give it the attention it needs. If your heart tells you to grab the watering can and bask in the sun, how can you take the first step?
1. Accept the fact that you are a leader
You are not alone if you wake up and think you are not a leader. according to an study, 50% of female managers and 31% of male managers say they have felt doubts at some point in their career. But if you wake up and ask yourself how you can to learn to lead instead, let in the first rays of sunshine your leadership seed needs to grow.
We all have the ability to question ourselves and others. Once you embrace this ability, the skill of inquiry can put you right into the leadership position you’ve longed for. In fact, it’s a big part of why I now hold my position at my company. As a board member, I kept asking business leaders important questions that spark great ideas, so they asked me to act as CEO.
Research continues to be at the heart of leadership, even at the top. As you progress, you inevitably fall into uncharted waters with no scripts and take on heavier responsibilities. That’s why I constantly ask for information and opinions from other people. I know I don’t have all the experience or answers myself, but I trust that we can pool our resources and knowledge together to find out.
Related: 6 Leadership Lessons I Learned From Playing Hockey
2. Dismantle leadership myths
Leadership myths are like fungus: They can coat your seed and harm its ability to grow. Some of the worst myths are the concepts that leaders are born rather than made and that great titles equate to great leaders. We often associate leadership with titles or specific traits, but some executives only have great titles because they have worked in their industry for decades. They have “earned” the CEO role through time and dedication, but when it comes down to it, they are ineffective leaders.
You can see these myths falling apart when you look at famous leaders throughout history. Mother Teresa didn’t have a complicated agenda. Instead, she focused on help one person at a time. Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t focus on how many people he could get to his stage – he just spoke truthfully about a vision he believed in.
So let go of the mistaken belief that leadership has an office and elaborate org charts. It’s not about any of those things. Leadership is about a state of mind. If you have the right attitude, you can be at the forefront of whatever you want to lead.
Related: How to be an adaptable leader and use change to your advantage?
3. Ask how you can keep watering your seed
As you go through the day, you might pick up a piece of trash that 60 other people have passed. You can return the wallet that someone has lost on a busy street while others have chosen to put it in their pocket.
These examples show us that leadership is about the small things. They also show that you can be any kind of leader you want to be. My daughter, who always wanted to be a lawyer, had a successful competitive trial at her school. In the same way, if someone likes chess and there is no chess club in their school, their first small action might be to go to the activity director and ask to form a group. There are no age or certification requirements for taking initiative.
More than just the first step, leadership requires continuous effort. If you don’t spread the word that there is a new chess club and come up with a place to meet, guess what? Not many people will show up. Once you’ve answered the question of what kind of leader you want to be, keep asking yourself what you can do to take that leadership to the next level.
4. Surround yourself with good leadership influences
Most people are strongly influenced by the people around them. That’s one of the reasons I’ve seen parents send their kids to a specific school, sports team, tutor, or coach. They want to ensure that their children’s peers share the belief that academics matter and want to help their children. It’s the same reason I worry about who my own kids are spending time with. I know those relationships will play an important role in shaping who my children become.
Influence can also come from others in the office. It not only forms your health but also your general well-being. It is imperative that you pay attention to the people you spend time with. Build a support system for yourself of positive people who share your values and have a track record of attracting people. They not only teach you the technical elements you need to get ahead, but also how to be a motivated, healthy and happy person.
Related: 5 Ways to Be a Leader Your Employees Will Respect
The harvest never ends
We all know someone who has become very good at playing the guitar, cooking or even juggling bowling pins. None of those people were champions of those skills on day one, but they wanted to get better. They chose to do the work and hone their craft.
We can also work on sharpening our leadership skills. We just have to make the effort to nurture the ability within us. This includes letting go of limiting mindsets and finding the right people to set a solid example for us. This is not a one-time commitment. Just like seeds need water more than once, you need to Get on take daily action to help your leadership thrive. When these actions together lead to success, you are not only prompted to take on more roles, but you can also inspire others to take action on what matters most to them. It is a lifelong journey without a destination. However, the fact that there is no end point is what makes leadership such a beautiful process. There will always be a way to change something, and that harvest is well worth the water and sunshine you consume along the way.