I saw Sadia walk into a pitch training session to make her pitch for assessment where I and 2 others were judging and training. She was about 35 then, wrapped in her traditional Somali guntiino. I wondered what amount of courage would make a lady from a community where women are largely deemed second to men come up with an innovation and pursue it so passionately.
The biggest question that came to mind after her pitch was, does she know she must lead hundreds of women in the future if her project is taken on? In a community where men would discourage their wives to participate in ventures and especially since she would probably be seen as one who is distracting them from family commitments?
I also wondered, just how many of us who stand out, seek to be excellent and are pushed into leadership? Or stumble into it through our business ventures and innovations?
What am I saying? Sometimes leadership chooses you. Which is different from promotion to leadership. Like Sadia, you came up with a great idea, implemented it and now you are wondering if you have what it takes to lead. It is like it caught you off guard yet most of the time you knew it would be something that demands you lead. You probably freak out, are unsure and considering stopping your venture or give the responsibility to someone else but no one knows your vision like you do. Like Mike Tyson said “Everybody has a plan, Until they get punched in the face” This sudden leadership can be one of the heaviest punches one can get.
So what should you do when you are captain of the ship and you were unprepared?
- Know that your lack of experience is not a deal breaker:Gautam Mukunda calls you unfiltered leaders, those with little or experience but are most likely to be the most impactful. In his article, he points out that experience is exactly what makes you not approach things differently. History is full of business and government leader who had little or no experience and are impactful. So breath, you are not alone.
- Understand and Accept Your New Situation:Accepting you are new to it is a key part of dealing with your mental health as a new leader. The fear that comes from performance anxiety for both driving your vision as founder and a leader to the team you must create is valid, but you must manage it and it all begins with acceptance.Peter Bregman calls this building emotional courage. “your ability to act thoughtfully, strategically, and powerfully while feeling afraid”.
- Ask for help:This one came from an iHubber who confessed when she started out her consultancy she soon realized that she needed help to navigate the new badge. Mentorship and what you have picked up from great leaders around you suddenly become a shopping mall for you to pick what you like, how you want to lead and how you don't want to lead. You can pick from great mentors and from forms of leadership that you have experienced. This I believe will form your style, Okay! this and your unique personality.
- Focus on the process:More often than not this sudden leadership has an end goal and sudden leaders are often caught up with the magnitude of the goal instead of focusing on the journey.
What are the steps I have to take? Why those steps? How can I take my team past these steps? How can I enable them?. So break down your goal and create your process map to your goals. You will get there.
Countless innovators have found themselves with teams to lead and it does not have to painful. The fact that you got to lead might just me fate placing you in destiny's path. If you suddenly found yourself in this position please write to me. [email protected] I would love to share your experience with the iHub community.
I leave you with an ancient African saying. “When there is no enemy within, The enemy outside, can do us no harm” So go on and believe in yourself.