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When Leadership Development Is a Bad Thing

I used to think I had to change to be a good leader. Now I see the strengths I had all along.

I was a natural leader among my peers, but I never thought of myself that way until I was in college. In my mind, leaders were loud, outgoing, bold, charismatic, and politically savvy. That wasn’t me, but I kept finding myself in leadership roles—and even wanting them. I discovered I was good at leading people, and I received regular affirmation of my leadership gifts. So I figured if I wanted to be a better leader, I’d have to work on changing myself to be more like the leaders I had in mind. I wasn’t very good at being that person.

Thankfully, I soon found myself reporting to a leader who was great at seeing me and giving me permission to be myself. Then another, who encouraged me to delegate things to focus on what I was good at. It took me a while, but eventually I realized the only person I’m really good at being is myself and the qualities that come with my personality are my leadership strengths.

Ironically, the more comfortable I became being me, the more uncomfortable I was in my corporate leadership role. In time, I made a gutsy transition out of corporate life and into self-employment. I honored that quiet writer who had been sitting inside me all those years. I recognized the parts of leadership I was best suited for, and trained to be a coach. During my training, I finally fully embraced my personality as a set of real assets. This happened partly because the training itself pushed me for the sake of those who benefit from my work. And partly because I had found a leadership role where some of the most prized skills are—you guessed it—intuition and the kind of deep listening a person like me longs to do.

I’m not sure you could find anyone better suited to my life—self-employed writer, coach, prophetic speaker—than an introverted intuitive thinker like me. I lead from my strengths, and my favorite people to coach are creative leaders who themselves are ready for something new. I help them amplify their inner strength so they can take ownership of their life purpose, move forward, and live in truth. One of my favorite things is seeing people step into a fuller expression of who they were made to be. While I’m grateful for the skills I’ve developed by stretching beyond what comes most naturally to me, embracing my God-given personality has freed me to employ the upsides of both introversion and intuition in leadership.

August22, 2016 at 8:00 AM

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