I have always felt drawn to leadership ever since that first day in kindergarten when that little blonde girl was crying because she had never been away from her family before. I confidently asserted that I had gone to preschool and knew how this school thing worked. Summer and I were instant best friends. Throughout the year we decided to adopt another shy girl into our little circle until our circle grew and grew. To this day I’m not sure she ever spoke a word of English. But she needed a friend, so we extended all the protection our popularity afforded her.

From that first day in kindergarten, my confidence in leadership began to wane. It was the time I realized that leadership did not always make you popular. Indeed there were times when it cost you dearly. Throughout the years came the kids who didn’t appreciate originality or independence from groupthink, the librarian who didn’t appreciate my stand against certain books, the boss who called me “demanding,” the other boss who was convinced I was manipulative when I thought I was being proactive.

So many leaders, seeing the price tag, remain as window shoppers outside the doors of leadership opportunities. As in my blog on burnout, they would rather not take on the responsibility. I want to go out on a limb and say that if you have eyes to see the cost, you will most likely make an excellent leader. So many of history’s leaders were reluctant ones. They would have rather stayed in the comfort of their own homes with the ones they loved than call attention to themselves. They would have been content to follow. They pursued peaceful and quiet lives.

But the situations around them cried out for a leader and when they looked around, they saw no one else taking any action, or taking the wrong kind of action. They wish that there was a leader they could fully support, but because there was no one else with their message, their passion, or their commitment, they stepped up. They became the reluctant leaders. My point is that sometimes you don’t find leadership, sometimes leadership finds you. If and when it does I want to encourage you to count the cost, hold your breath and then take the plunge.

We have been so trained to think of ambition as a negative thing that we subconsciously think that to be a leader, you must push others out of the way. Perhaps our culture has too often rewarded such behavior. We sometimes forget that taking on authentic leadership is one of the most selfless things you can do. Too many good people are looking for your voice, your stand, your gifts. The minute it is within your power to supply a need within your reach, to speak into a situation within your influence, or to change a policy within your grasp, is the minute that opportunity turns into responsibility. The reluctant leader is still a leader. In retrospect, they are often listed among the best.

  1. Point taken…sheesh! I mean, you were talking to me, right đŸ˜‰ Keep it coming, Leigh.

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