Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Who's Leading Your Life?

By Amy Phillips-Gary

Are you a leader?

When you think about leadership, an image of someone like political leaders John F. Kennedy or Barak Obama might come to your mind.

There may also be people in your personal life such as a friend, parent or head of a group to which you belong who are role models and guides for you.

Do you consider yourself a leader in your own life?

This question might sound silly at first read.

How can a person be a leader for him or herself after all?

It's wonderful to be inspired and motivated by others. But when it comes down to it, if you aren't leading your own life-- at least to some degree-- you're probably not directing yourself toward the goals you ultimately want to achieve.

No matter how compelling the person is whom you are choosing to follow, without self-leadership, you are left dependent and even in danger of ending up with a life that was not what you had in mind!

Rather than being practiced at looking outside yourself for what your next step should be, as your own leader you look and listen within for possibilities and then make choices as the primary creator of your life.

How to Be (and not to be) a Leader
There are many ways to be a leader.

You might have encountered a leader who seemed to you to be overbearing or even tyrannical. Many of us have also experienced leaders who seemed untrustworthy or weak, disorganized and confused.

Your self-perceptions might also fit some of these descriptions.

None of these ways of being a leader seem all that competent or capable.

I want the leaders in my life to help direct me toward some desired goal. And I want to feel respected and vital to the team I'm on in the process.

It is the same when you are the leader and you are also the team.

Effective Leadership Qualities:
*Integrity-- trustworthy and follows through
*Clarity-- a vision and plan for the present and future
*Dedication-- persistence and focus
*Openness-- willingness to explore possibilities
*Fairness and Humility-- respect and valuing others and self
*Comportment-- a bodily sense of confidence, clarity and trustworthiness

Embrace the Leader Who is YOU!
I invite you to take a closer look at the kind of leader you tend to be-- for yourself and for others.

Even if you are “only” leading yourself or your children, start to pay closer attention.

What are the beliefs you hold about leaders? Perhaps you experienced leadership as a diminishing or otherwise negative force and now you resist being a leader or following others as leaders.

Make note of the assumptions you make about leaders and leadership and ask yourself if you want to continue to hold onto them.

Is there a new leadership model you'd like to develop? If so, what does it look like? You might include attributes such as those listed above or you may have a completely different set of effective leadership characteristics.

Once you have a clear and positive vision of leadership, begin to embrace yourself as a leader. Try out some of these ways of being.

For example, you might look at yourself in the mirror more often to see how you tend to hold your body. Experiment with different ways of holding yourself and notice how you feel.

Do you feel stronger or weaker in particular shapes? Does this change your life outlook at this moment at all?

This isn't about criticizing or judging yourself as inadequate. It's about learning your comportment habits and deciding to try something new.

What changes might you make in others areas of your life to start being the leader you want to be?

I wish for all of us to fully embrace ourselves as effective and capable leaders. There are certainly times when we look to others for guidance and inspiration. This is one way we come together as a community.

As we each stand confidently and clearly directed toward our visions for the future, we can more fully contribute to that sense of community. We can inspire and guide others and also allow ourselves to be inspired and guided while maintaining our own sense of self in the process.

Imagine an inter-connected world full of assure and capable leaders-- and see yourself as one of them!


  1. You write such inspiring posts! I'd like to think of myself as a leader, particularly in social situations or in my daily life. Or more like someone who doesn't follow with the group. I kind of go off on my own. I'm a little less of a leader in work situations, and need to take more ownership of that.

  2. I think it's inspiring the way you are leading yourself in your own business Kate! That's leadership for sure.