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How to Know if You’re a Leader

Welcome again to 3-2-1 Take Action, where we share 3 thoughts on Leadership, 2 leadership tips, and 1 action point to help you take your leadership to the next level!

If you think you’re not a leader, this write-up is for you. If you think you’re a leader, then this write-up will help you to become even more certain.

The thoughts for today focus on debunking some illusions which prevent many people from seeing themselves as leaders or questioning if they’re really leaders. Here are the 3 illusions:

  1. The Position Illusion – thinking that you need a position to be a leader

  2. The Knowledge Illusion – thinking you need to know everything to be a leader

  3. The First-Mover Illusion – thinking you need to be the first to do something to be a leader

In my time of working with leaders, I’ve seen many leaders struggle with these illusions, and this struggle prevents them from rising to their full potential.

The Position Illusion

Many people think that leadership is about the position or title that you have, and nothing could be farther from the truth. I'm sure if you reflect on your journey, you will know quite a few people who had the position but didn't actually demonstrate the leadership you expected them to demonstrate. This shows that having the position doesn’t necessarily make you a leader. If you don’t have the position or title, you can still be a leader.

Leadership is influence nothing more, nothing less

The Knowledge Illusion

I’ve also seen many people who think that leadership is about knowing everything there is to know on a specific topic, but this is also not true. Leadership involves recognizing what you know and acknowledging what you don't know. While it should be stated that there are things you need to learn to lead effectively, to expect to know everything, before you can be a leader, is an illusion. Good leaders know the things they don't know and they know who to go to, to get the information they need.

The First-Mover Illusion

With this illusion, people think they can only be the leader when they are the first to do something. This is also not true. For example, if you look at today’s technology world, the leaders are not necessarily the first to get into that tech space. There is definitely a benefit for coming in first, but because you aren’t the first to do something doesn't mean you can't lead.

To summarize, although you don’t have the position (or title), or you don’t have the knowledge or you’re not the first to do something, you can still be a leader. Before you disagree with me, please read on to understand what leadership really is.

Leadership Tip 1

Leadership is influence.

John Maxwell is famously quoted as saying “Leadership is influence nothing more, nothing less”. To know if you’re a leader, I would like you to answer this question, “Over the last week, month or year, did you find yourself at a place or position where you could influence somebody?” I’m yet to find someone who would answer ‘no’ to that question because everyone would have had at least one opportunity to influence someone else during that time frame. Tim Elmore says, “Sociologists tell us the most introverted of people will influence 10,000 others in an average lifetime." This is the first indicator to you that you’re a leader.

Leadership Tip 2

Leadership is Service