Leadership for the Rest of Us

I was neither born nor raised to be a leader. Not the architect of a new technology. Not the founder of a startup company. Not a CEO.

When I was born (and this was a very long time ago), there were serious defects in my leadership blueprint. I had two X chromosomes at a time when one Y was needed to be a leader. (Actually, 42 Extra Long was the preferred standard, and I didn’t reach my full 5’2” until I was 25.)

Although I had no choice in the matter, I also ended up with two loving parents, neither of whom was an entrepreneur or executive, which, at the time, was also considered a defect. It would seem hopeless. But somehow, along the way, I learned a few things that helped me get over my shortcomings.

Here are some tactics you can try on your way to becoming a leader:

  • Start, or take a leadership position in, an organization that does something good for people. (I was involved in several volunteer organizations and learned a lot about what being a leader really means.)
  • People often make snap judgments based on how you look, and they’re often wrong. But, the more you tune into how they see you, the more you can influence their ideas about you. Ask a friend for feedback. (I will be eternally grateful to my BFF for convincing me to stop dressing like a mom, even at business meetings.)
  • Credit for this one goes to serial entrepreneur and investor, Vincent Schiavone, who told me his secret in two words: Get Famous! (I have been working at it ever since.)
  • Ask yourself why you want to lead. If your answer is to make more money, there are probably easier ways. If your answer is to change the world (or some part of it) start figuring out how you’re going to do that and, more important, who you’ll need to team with to get there.
  • Finally: don’t give up. Remember that times change and you will change with them. What is impossible at 30 can be possible at 40, probable at 50, and inevitable at 60. (Just remember as you get older to stay young in your mind, your heart, and your body.)

Leadership has little to do with being ‘born with it.’ All you need to do is be the person other people want to follow!

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