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Are You Waiting For An Invitation To Lead?

If you are a leader… you are expected to lead. It is as simple as that. So why is it that so many leaders tell me they are waiting to be told what to do, what is expected of them, what their job role is, and how they fit into the corporate structure?

I was speaking with a senior leader recently. She had been in her role for more than four years and was frustrated (almost to the point of anger) that the CEO was not giving her guidance on how he saw the next evolution of her role.

Meanwhile, the CEO was sharing with me his frustration that the senior leader was lacking initiative, was not demonstrating strategic thinking and was failing to contribute in a meaningful way to the leadership team.

It turns out that the leader had been waiting to be invited to the party… not recognising that the invitation had been given years earlier when she was given the leadership position. Just like a timid child in the school yard, she was hovering around the outer fringes of the group, desperately wanting to join in but waiting for permission and direction, which of course never came.

If you have been entrusted with a leadership position, assume you have permission to use it. 

Yes, it is always easier when we are given direction, provided with a clear strategy to follow and a road map for what is expected, but if it is not forth coming, see that as a stamp of approval to create your own direction.

Being in a leadership role means showing initiative. It’s about taking risks and being ok that sometimes you will get it wrong. It is better than waiting in the shadows and doing nothing. You will never be seen as a true leader while you do this.

You have worked hard to get to this point in your career; don’t blow it now!

Purely waiting, marking time, hoping to get some clarity, will not get you seen as a leader with impact and influence. You will not only be letting yourself down, you will also be letting your team down and failing to contribute to your organisation in the way you know you are truly capable of.

So what do you need to do?

  1. Recognise your position. The permission to lead has already been given so go out and lead. Take on the identity of a leader and step fully into your role. Show initiative, think strategically and take action. Manage up rather than waiting for your manager to manage you. Seek feedback on ideas and performance rather than always asking for direction.
  1. Craft your own path. If it is not clear what the job role is, take this as permission to craft your own path, drawing on your unique skills, passions and abilities. Relish the freedom and free reign and enjoy the fact that your role is up to you to create as you want. Start with what you do really well and allow your best attributes to shine.
  1. Recognise your value. You have been appointed into this role because you are seen to be an exceptional leader. Recognise and believe in your value. An exercise I give most of the leaders I work with is to create a list of all the ways they add value and why they are worthy for the role they are in. It is only once we believe in our value that others will believe in us too

So, if you have been entrusted with a leadership position, assume you have the permission to use it. Step into the role fully with courage and confidence. No more waiting for an invitation to play. Just go out, join in and have fun.

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